Early this month, China's Zhejiang Sanhua Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen: 2050) made its first equity investment in an Israeli company, investing $9.25 million in modular solar thermal systems developer company Heliofocus Ltd., controlled by Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) through its cleantech arm, IC Green Energy Ltd. (ICG). Heliofocus became part of Sanhua's cleantech strategy.
In an interview with "Globes", Sanhua chairman Zhang Daocai and his son, VP innovative technologies Zhang Yabo, explain the origin of the Heliofocus investment, and what additional investments the company plans to make in Israel. Sanhua was founded 30 years ago as a family firm by the Zhang family, under Premier Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms. The corporation now has more than 30 subsidiaries.
"Globes": How did the investment in Heliofocus come about?
Zhang Yabo: Over the past four months, we visited 15 Israeli renewable energy and water technology companies. Heliofocus was the first company we decided to invest in. We're still considering the other companies.
Why did you decide to invest in Israeli companies?
"Although Israel has only limited natural resources, it has exceptional achievements to its name, thanks to its technological capabilities and extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit. At the same time, China is very strong in manufacturing, but wants to convert from traditional manufactures to high-tech activity. We therefore thought is right to link up with the capabilities of Israeli high tech."
What investments are you now looking at in Israel?
"At this stage, we won't make more investment in an Israeli solar company, but we'll look at water and sewage treatment technology."
Will you future investments in Israel also be in start-ups?
Zhang Daocai: "It is more likely that we'll invest in a company that is closer to market, but we won't rule anything out. We're also examining companies elsewhere in the world, but in cleantech, we intend to continue developing in Israel. Strategically, we want to deepen our penetration into cleantech."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 26, 2010
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