Chinese FDI into Europe hit record high in 2014, according to multinational law firm Baker & McKenzie's recent 'Reaching new heights' report. The report, which is based on data compiled by New York-based advisory Rhodium Group, shows that, in 2014, Chinese investments in Europe were double those recorded in 2013, with an estimated $18bn invested in 153 projects.

Chinese companies were particularly active in sectors such as food and tobacco, energy, and real estate, where they invested $4.1bn, $3.7bn and $3bn, respectively. Other sectors that proved popular among Chinese companies were auto motives, financial and business services.

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The UK was the leading European destination for Chinese investments in 2014, attracting an estimated $5.1bn. Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal attracted $3.5bn, $2.3bn and $2bn, respectively. The report highlighted that Chinese investments in the continent, which were scarce until 2004, picked up pace in 2009, when investments inflows grew to nearly $3bn. Since 2009, Chinese investors have spent an estimated $55bn in Europe.

The report uses data relating to both greenfield investments and acquisitions. fDi Markets data, which focuses solely on greenfield investments, shows that Chinese investment inflows to Europe are substantially higher than 10 years ago, but that the number of new projects has suffered year-on-year decline in the past few years. In 2011, Chinese investments in Europe reached a peak, with 176 new ventures launched. In 2013, this figure stood at 145 and, in 2014, it decreased even further to 118.

However, the past year marked a record year in terms of capital expenditures, fDi Markets data shows. Chinese companies invested an estimated $ 9.5bn in greenfield ventures, up from $ 4bn in 2013. The highest investment of last year was announced in August by China Trump International Engineering, an R&D firm. The company plans to spend around $ 3bn on a mechanical engineering plant in a Russian city of Ulyanovsk.