August 30, 2017 / 10:20 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-China Three Gorges unit seeks $1.5 bln from new investors - sources

* Potential new investor includes China Life Insurance, sources

* The share sale likely to be finalised by year-end, sources

* The firm looks to go public in Shanghai in about 2020 - source

* Plan is part of China’s mixed-ownership reforms (Adds details about SOE reforms and company background)

By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG, Aug 30 (Reuters) - China Three Gorges New Energy, a unit of the country’s top hydropower developer, plans to raise about 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) from new investors to develop its wind power business, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The wholly owned unit of state giant China Three Gorges Corporation is in talks with China Life Insurance, Chinese private equity firms and other institutional investors, the sources said.

Beijing has been calling on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to reform their ownership structure by bringing in new capital from private investors and this fundraising is part of the mixed-ownership plans, they said.

The private share sale would be roughly equivalent to 30 percent of the company, one of the sources said, adding that the unit was aiming to go public on the Shanghai stock exchange in about three years.

The deal is likely to be finalised by the end of the year, the sources said, declining to be identified as the financing plans were not public.

Three Gorges and China Life did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative of Three Gorges New Energy could not be immediately reached for comment.

The new energy unit plans to use part of the proceeds to build offshore wind power plants and acquire photovoltaic and wind stations across the country, the sources said.

The Chinese government wants to revitalise SOEs, many of which are bloated and debt-ridden, with private capital under so-called mixed-ownership reform.

State-owned telecoms group China Unicom raised $11.7 billion from 14 investors, including tech giants Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) and Alibaba Group (BABA.N), under the programme.

Other SOEs selected for the scheme include China Southern Power Grid, China State Shipbuilding Corp and China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corporation.

Three Gorges New Energy, formerly known as China Water Investment Group Corporation, was incorporated in 2008 into Three Gorges Corporation, the operator of the world’s largest hydropower plant on China’s Yangtze river.

The new energy firm currently operates wind and solar power plants and small- and medium-sized hydropower stations across China. It has assets exceeding 60 billion yuan, its website shows. ($1 = 6.5818 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Neil Fullick)

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