UPDATE 1-China's wealth fund ready to boost LatAm investment

Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:15am EDT

* Says hopeful on LatAm growth outlook

* Earned 40 pct on U.S. commercial property investment

* No direct investment in Japan (Adds details, background)

BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - China's $300 billion sovereign wealth fund is prepared to invest more in resource-rich Latin America because it is confident in the region's growth prospects, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Jin Liqun, chairman of the China Investment Corp. supervisory board , told an investor forum he had just returned from a trip to Brazil, Argentina and Chile and saw great potential for trade and investment.

"We are also optimistic on growth in Latin America and are prepared to increase our investment there," Jin said. "Brazil is fast growing, but Chile, Colombia are also providing interesting opportunities for private equity investors."

He did not say which sectors CIC is interested in.

In the past, however, Chinese firms have bought into energy and resource businesses in Latin America to feed China's voracious appetite for raw materials and help fuel growth in the world's second-largest economy.

"My impression during my short-trip to Latin America countries is that they would like us to invest in their home countries," he said.

Jin, who was trying to persuade foreign private equity firms to invest in China, said CIC is hunting for good deals and recently invested in distressed assets including U.S. commercial property.

The U.S. investment, made in the middle of 2010, earned a return of 40 percent by the end of 2010, he said.

To boost CIC's overall performance, Jin said the state investor has also invested in stand-lone funds such as those in the energy and resource sector, and one that focuses on Europe.

He did not say if these funds were mutual funds, hedge funds or private equity.

When asked if CIC had suffered any loss resulting from Japan's earthquake and radiation disasters, Jin said the sovereign wealth fund has no direct investment in Japan.

CIC was set up in 2007 to invest a slice of China's giant foreign exchange reserves, which have ballooned to $2.85 trillion.

It earned 12 percent on its global investment in 2009, reversing from a loss of 2 percent in 2008. (Reporting by Koh Gui Qing;; Editing by Ken Wills)

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