May 18, 2018 / 8:13 PM / 3 months ago

China vows to encourage more investment in Portugal

LISBON, May 18 (Reuters) - China will continue to encourage investment by its companies in Portugal thanks to the Iberian country’s “open attitude” to foreign investment, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a visit to Lisbon on Friday.

He was speaking a week after China Three Gorges launched a takeover bid for EDP-Energias de Portugal, the country’s largest company.

“We will continue to encourage Chinese companies to invest,” Wang told journalists after meeting his Portuguese counterpart, Augusto Santos Silva.

CTG already owns 23 percent of EDP, which it bought during the height of Portugal’s 2011-14 debt crisis, and is now bidding for the rest of the company.

The bid was launched at a premium of just five percent above EDP’s closing share price on the day of the offer and EDP has called the price low, but its board has yet to give a formal response.

Santos Silva said Chinese investment in Portugal was welcome, adding that CTG’s offer was in the hands of shareholders to decide. Prime Minister Antonio Costa has said he is not opposed to the bid.

“Portugal receives Chinese investment and investment from other countries as long as they create jobs, create value and maintain assets in Portugal,” said Santos Silva.

“Chinese investment ... has created value for Portuguese assets and as such this investment is welcome.”

Chinese companies have snapped up a series of Portuguese assets in recent years, in banking, insurance and energy.

The two ministers said relations between the two countries were close and there were plans for a visit to Portugal by Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year.

They said they hoped to increase cooperation on China’s proposed belt and road initiative, saying Portugal’s southern deepwater port of Sines could play an important role in the maritime route. (Reporting by Axel Bugge; editing by Andrew Roche)

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