As the British establishment rolls out the red carpet to President Xi Jinping for his state visit, IBTimes UK takes a look at five well-known brands you may never have guessed were Chinese-owned.

Birmingham City Football Club

Birmingham Football Club
St Andrew's, Birmingham City's stadium Getty

Football, what could be more English? Well, one Championship club in the centre of the country is Chinese-owned. Birmingham City were taken over by Carson Yeung's Grandtop International in 2009. Back then the West Midlands team were in the top flight of English football, but the fortunes of the club have since dipped on the pitch as well as off it.

Yeung was jailed for six years in Hong Kong for money laundering in March 2014 and has since been released on bail. Before his imprisonment, the 55-year-old businessman quit the board of the Hong Kong-listed Birmingham International Holdings (formerly Grandtop) and resigned as chairman of the club. As for the team, the Blues are currently fourth in the Championship and are in a prime position to get a place in the play-offs.


The wholegrain cereal company is Chinese-owned Weetabix

The popular breakfast cereal has been fuelling the UK since 1932 and was family-owned until 2004, when private equity firm Lion Capital bought a stake in the firm. The company later signed a major deal in 2012 that saw Chinese state-owned Bright Food buy a controlling 60% slice in the business. However, its sales took a knock in 2014 as Brits increasingly turned to budget supermarkets such as Aldi.


Volvo badge
A Volvo badge Getty

The carmaker is as Swedish as Abba or meatballs, right? Wrong. The manufacturer may have its headquarters in Gothenburg, but the company was owned by American car giant Ford until Geely (or Zhejiang Geely Holding Group) bought the company for $1.8bn (£1.1bn) in 2010. The carmaker is planning its first electric vehicle for 2019.

"It would be Volvo's first dip into the market for 100% electric transport after unveiling its first gas-electric plug-in SUV, the XC90 T8, which is already on sale in Sweden and is due in other markets by January. The 407-horsepower plug-in SUV can travel about 25 miles on electric power alone," IBTimes reported.

Pizza Express

George Osborne at Pizza Express
Chancellor George Osborne helps out in a Pizza Express in Hove Getty

Founded by a Peterborough-born bloke, Pizza Express has never been Italian. Peter Boizot opened the chain's' first outlet in London in 1965 and now you can order dough balls, formaggis and sloppy Giuseppes from its restaurants across the UK. The company went public in 1993, private again in 2003, public in 2005 and private again in 2007. The business was then purchased by Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital in 2014 for a reported £900m.

House of Fraser

House of Fraser store front
A House of Fraser store front Getty

The Scottish department store, founded in Glasgow in 1849, sold a majority 89% stake in its company to a subsidiary of the Chinese-owned Sanpower Group in 2014 for a staggering £480m. An April Fools joke earlier this year saw it claim to purchase a gee-gee called 'Horse of Fraser' prior to running it in the Grand National.

"We've overcome a few hurdles in the development process so I'm sure it will be an unbridled success! You've heard it straight from the horse's mouth," a spokesman for the store joked at the time.