New capital for CIC to acquire European assets

Updated: 2012-03-05 08:09

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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New capital for CIC to acquire European assets

Wang Jianxi, deputy general manager and chief risk officer of China Investment Corp and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, is surrounded by reporters at the Beijing Conference Center on Sunday. [Guan Xin / China Daily]

BEIJING - China Investment Corp, the nation's sovereign wealth fund, has received an injection of $30 billion from the government that will help it buy assets in debt-stricken Europe, Wang Jianxi, deputy general manager and chief risk officer of CIC, told China Daily.

Late last year, "the company received a new round of funding of $30 billion from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange", as earlier funding had essentially been fully invested, said Wang, who is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee.

He commented on the sidelines of this year's session of the committee on Sunday.

Asked how the new money would be used, Wang said: "While financial assets are undervalued and there are limited financial risks in purchasing" in the heavily indebted European markets, CIC "in the short term, would devote itself to investing in the region, in an active way".

CIC was established in 2007 when the Ministry of Finance issued 1.55 trillion yuan ($246 billion at current exchange rates) in special yuan bonds that were swapped for $200 billion worth of foreign currency from SAFE.

In recent months, CIC said that it had fully invested this money and was negotiating with the government for additional financing.

Reuters reported late last year that CIC was to receive additional funding of up to $50 billion.

"If the returns on our investment projects remain sound, we will apply to get (continued) injections from the government", said Wang.

Experts said the new cash would give CIC the firepower to invest abroad, especially as Europe struggles with a debt crisis that has left many financial assets up for sale.

"When the economy is good, they (developed nations) prefer to attach some political tag to proposed Chinese investment. But when (the economy) is ailing, there are less such restrictions," Wang said.

But, "in the long term, or say, in the next five to ten years, CIC will mainly target emerging markets," he said. "We are committed to making long-term, non-speculative investments."

Lou Jiwei, the chairman of CIC, has said the company is keen to invest in updating the obsolete infrastructure of Western countries, especially the United Kingdom.

In January, CIC said it bought an 8.68-percent stake in UK-based utility Thames Water from a group of investors led by Australia's top investment bank Macquarie.

As for the Chinese government's promise to aid European nations, Wang said, CIC's new funds wouldn't be used to help other countries by buying their bonds.

Premier Wen Jiabao said recently that China is willing to help Europe to solve its debt problems.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked CIC and other "long-term investors" to buy European government debt.

But Lou recently told the annual meeting of China Economists 50 Forum that long-term investors like CIC find it difficult to invest in eurozone government bonds.

"Investment opportunities may lie in areas like infrastructure and industrial projects, and these projects can help economic recovery," he said.