China state fund CIC eyes German investments: CIO in Handelsblatt

Bull and bear statues are pictured outside Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) [CIC.UL] is eyeing investments in Europe’s biggest economy, its chief investment officer has told a German business paper.

“We are looking at a variety of objects,” Li Keping, who also serves as CIC’s vice chairman and president, told Handelsblatt in an interview, excerpts of which were published on Sunday.

He said the fund, which manages about $750 billion of China’s foreign exchange reserves, was particularly interested in firms involved in ‘Industrie 4.0’, a German government initiative backed by lobby groups in engineering, electronics and high-tech to address issues such as worker skills, data transfer standards and data security.

CIC was also closely watching the sale of government-owned assets in Greece, Li said, without elaborating.

CIC was founded in 2007 to help China earn a higher return on its foreign exchange reserves, worth $3.73 trillion at the end of March. At least a quarter of CIC’s assets are overseas.

Li also tried to allay fears that China’s communist leadership would intervene too strongly in European holdings. “We are not aiming for direct control of companies in our portfolio,” he said, adding that the fund mainly planned to take minority stakes.

CIC was among bidders for German motorway service station group Tank&Rast, but lost out to a consortium led by insurer Allianz ALVG.DE.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Andrew Bolton/Ruth Pitchford