New results about participating interests of multinational enterprises

2011 saw a continuation of the trend towards building up multinational groups by way of holding companies. The latest results of the foreign direct investment stock statistics at year-end 2011 indicate that more than two-fifths of German primary corporate assets abroad totalling just under €1.1 trillion are held in holding companies. This development is even more clearly reflected by the level of foreign primary direct investment in holding companies in Germany, which stands at €483 billion or almost two-thirds of the total stock of €741 billion. While the bulk of German primary direct investment in 2011 took the form of increases in equity capital (+€55 billion) owing to the upbeat earnings situation, foreign investors extended their direct investment in Germany chiefly by way of intra-group loans.

A more informative picture of the investment targets in regional and sectoral breakdown can be obtained by observing the consolidated aggregate of primary and secondary direct investment, which does not take account of the majority-held holding companies but rather their participating interests. Thus, while the Netherlands and Luxembourg were the holding locations for a quarter of German primary corporate assets held abroad at year-end 2011, this share only represented just under 12% of consolidated German direct investment stocks. By contrast, the share attributable to the United States rose from 16% to 22%. The continuing dynamism shown by China is noteworthy. Compared with year-end 2010, consolidated German direct investment stocks in China were up by more than a quarter at €39 billion. Both the number and turnover of direct investment enterprises and the number of employees saw above-average growth in China.

As for the sectoral breakdown, this is the first time that the results have been classified in line with the new NACE (Nomenclature statistique des activités économiques dans la Communauté européenne) Rev 2. The corresponding statistical data has been revised back to 2008. This harmonised method of classifying statistics for economic activities in the European Community primarily provides a more detailed breakdown of the service sector. German direct investment abroad at the end of 2011 was focused on investments in financial and insurance activities alongside manufacturing and trade, much like at year-end 2008. The strongest increase seen during the period under review was in the number of trading affiliates, which were also responsible for almost 40% of the additional turnover at foreign direct investment enterprises. At year-end 2011, foreign investors had a clear bias towards Germany’s manufacturing sector, which accounted for just under half of the aggregate turnover as well as half of the employees at all the direct investment enterprises with foreign shareholders.

Methodological information on these statistics and detailed data can be found in the Special Statistical Publication 10 “Foreign direct investment stock statistics” on our website under Publications.