The sentiment of global investors was on the rise in February as video games developers and consumer electronics companies opened new overseas offices, and energy majors set out major capacity expansions, although it will inevitably be impacted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine that started on February 24.

The fDi Index, which tracks foreign investors’ sentiment, stood at 775 points in February, up by 25.4% from a year earlier, according to the latest figures from fDi Markets. This marks a significant uptick from January 2022, but remains below the index scores of more than 870 recorded between September and November 2021.

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Foreign investors announced 953 greenfield FDI projects globally in February, up from the 711 projects a month earlier. This was in line with the monthly average recorded across 2021.

Signs of international expansion on the horizon were noticeably lower than previous months. Investor signals — a major component of the fDi Index that give an early indication of future investment plans — stood at 359 in February, the lowest number for a year.

Gaming leads

The largest increase in FDI projects between February 2021 and 2022 was in the video games, applications and digital content sub-sector. Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends and a subsidiary of China-based tech giant Tencent, is set to open five new local offices, including in the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

Alex Kraynov, Riot Games’s managing director for Asia Pacific, said in a statement that is “a natural step” for progressing Riot’s publishing business in a region they see as having the biggest potential in the world.

“This region is intricately diverse, with massive gaming communities that have diverse needs and a strong appetite for mobile gaming,” he said. Meanwhile, Cyprus-based Room 8 Group, which provides external game development services, announced plans to open four new offices in Spain, Romania and Poland.

Consumer electronics companies also expanded their global footprints in February. US-based Bellabeat, a wellness company that focuses on smart jewellery for women, is planning to open new offices in global cities including Singapore, Lisbon and Copenhagen.

Ugandan oil

Africa attracted the highest monthly total of foreign capital for more than five years in February, with FDI projects worth over $21bn announced across the continent. A megaproject led by international energy conglomerate France-based TotalEnergies made up the lion’s share of this figure.

TotalEnergies and its joint venture partners, which include China National Offshore Oil Corporate, are set to invest about $10bn into the Lake Albert Development Project in Uganda.

This is the largest FDI project announced in the energy sector across Africa since December 2017, when Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom set out plans to build a new $30bn plant in El Dabaa, Egypt.

The project will entail the construction of the East African crude oil pipeline, which will stretch 1443km from the oil fields in Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania. 

“The development of Lake Albert resources is a major project for Uganda and Tanzania, and our ambition is to make it an exemplary project in terms of shared prosperity and sustainable development,” Patrick Pouyanné, the CEO of TotalEnergies, said in a statement.

Anglophone boost

The UK, US and Australia recorded the largest increase in FDI projects in February, compared with a year earlier. Meanwhile, North America was the only global region to see FDI project uptick over the same period, with the US accounting for the majority of this.

Taiwan-based silicon wafer producer GlobalWafers plans to expand its US production capacity as part of a $1.6bn investment campaign. Australian minerals company Syrah Technologies also announced plans to invest $176m to expand its graphite processing facility in Vidalia, Louisiana. 

This comes off the heels of Syrah’s agreement to supply natural graphite to Tesla for use in their electric vehicle batteries. Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement: “This is just the beginning of Louisiana’s efforts to help vehicle manufacturers leverage our state’s unique logistical advantages to meet increasing electric car and truck demand.”

US-based investors in February showed a preference for pursuing domestic opportunities. Some 175 interstate projects — investments made by a company headquartered in another US state — were tracked in February, compared with 147 FDI projects made overseas.