In 2018, merger and acquisition intelligence provider CMS and Mergermarket surveyed more than 100 senior executives to gauge their views on investing opportunities and risks in the year ahead in countries along the trade corridors of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Of the 100-plus respondents, 60 were non-Chinese multinational corporations and 40 were Chinese state-owned enterprises and privately owned corporations.
"All respondents are either currently active or planning to participate in BRI projects in the near term. In order to ensure confidentiality, identities of all respondents will remain anonymous," CMS said when releasing the 21-page report.
"As the Belt and Road Initiative continues to evolve, our survey reveals a growing sense of confidence among Chinese and international investors about their ability to participate.
"This starts with changing market sentiments toward a definition of which investments can be classified as BRI projects and also which parties must be involved. While touted by China's President Xi Jinping as an international effort open to all participants, to date the trade and infrastructure initiative has been dominated by Chinese capital or required a Chinese partner to engage in such projects.
"Likewise, projects have been mostly focused on heavy infrastructure and various megaprojects across Eurasia as opposed to soft infrastructure (such as services, IT and others). However, 46% of respondents say BRI projects today do not necessarily require a Chinese partner, support or approvals from the Chinese government.
"Additionally, 50% say these projects can take a variety of forms other than those specific to heavy infrastructure. More generally, and with a view to the future, respondents agree that while it is currently a significant challenge to their involvement, identifying and sourcing investable projects will become less difficult in the near term.
"This is a critical inflection point for interested parties, particularly those who may have assumed exclusion for lack of Chinese support - and, as such, respondents note that various investor groups will increase their involvement in the year ahead," the report's authors state.