Global foreign direct investment (FDI) announcements surged in April, as software and financial firms expanded their international footprints, and renewables developers outlined major green electricity generation projects.
The fDi Index, which tracks foreign investors’ sentiment, stood at 940 points in April, up by 28.5% from a year earlier, according to the latest figures from fDi Markets. This marks three consecutive months of growth and represents the highest index score since November 2019, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foreign investors announced 1206 greenfield FDI projects globally in April, up from the 1086 projects a month earlier. This is the first time monthly project numbers have returned to the record-breaking highs seen in 2019.
However, signs of international expansion on the horizon were noticeably lower than previous months. Investor signals — a major component of the fDi Index that gives an early indication of future investment plans — stood at 320 in April, the lowest number recorded since February 2021.
The largest increase in FDI projects between April 2021 and 2022 was in the broadly defined tech sector, as software developers bolstered their overseas offices. US-based Workday, a provider of enterprise software solutions, is set to create 1000 new jobs over the next two years at its new European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.
Chris Byrne, a senior vice president at Workday, said in a statement that the company’s new headquarters will enable it “to engage more deeply in [its] local educational and community programmes”.
Foreign research and development (R&D) projects also drove the uptick in FDI projects in April 2022, compared to a year earlier. This was notable in the financial services industry.
Wirex, a UK-based bitcoin debit card provider, expanded its R&D presence across Central and Eastern European countries. This included a new R&D centre in Wrocław, Poland, where it hopes to employ local tech talent as well as IT specialists that have fled the war in Ukraine.
Elsewhere, US-based manufacturer of medical instruments Thermo Fisher Scientific is set to open a new R&D and engineering facility in Hyderabad, India.
Tony Acciarito, president of Asia Pacific and Japan at Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in a statement that Hyderabad “is a hotspot for talent acquisition” and “home to world-renowned R&D institutes”.
India’s appeal to foreign investors is played out in the numbers, too. The world’s largest democracy saw the largest increase in FDI projects of any country in April 2022, compared to a year earlier. It was followed by Australia and France, which both saw an influx of foreign tech firms.
Renewables shine through
FDI projects worth more than $12bn were announced in April, with the solar energy sub-sector recording its highest number of monthly projects since November 2020.
One notable project was announced by US-based energy storage specialist H2-Industries, which plans to invest $1.4bn to develop a waste-to-hydrogen plant on a coastal site in Oman. The company will construct 300 megawatts’s worth of solar photovoltaic cell installation to provide base-load capacity for the project.
At the macro level, US-based investors showed a preference for expansion opportunities at home. Some 266 inter-state projects — domestic investments made by a company based in another US state — were recorded in April, compared with 154 in overseas markets.
This is the highest number of interstate projects recorded since August 2021. Projects worth $34bn were announced in April by domestic and foreign investors in the US. This reflects the recent surge in capital intensive projects across the world’s largest economy.