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Construction firm to begin overseas investment arm

Updated: 2012-03-22 07:54

By Bao Chang (China Daily)

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China Communication Construction Co Ltd said it will establish its first overseas investment company in Hong Kong in the first half of this year to speed up the company's global expansion.

The largest Chinese State-owned builder of transport projects, which is now constructing 400 projects abroad at a value of more than $29 billion, is taking further steps to spread its presence overseas, not only as a contractor but also as an investor.

"The new company will have the ability to invest $500 million, most of which will be devoted to opportunities in the construction of ports, docks, roads and bridges outside the home market," said Zhou Jichang, company chairman.

The new company's top priorities will be making equity investment in those sorts of projects and acquiring other companies, Zhou said.

He said establishing overseas investment operations will be one of the main ways the company plans to expand its global presence in the next five years. During the time, he wants China Communication Construction to receive 30 percent of its revenue from its international business, up from 20 percent now. In the long term, he hopes to raise that to 40 percent.

Last year, the Hong Kong-listed company set up an overseas department to manage its international business.

"The biggest task for the year is to accelerate the establishment of overseas investment companies," Zhou said.

By the end of 2011, China Communication Construction had invested more than 200 billion yuan ($31.75 billion) into 76 projects domestically and abroad, forming a preliminary investment model for the company.

"We will ensure there is a more than 20 percent return for each investment project and choose those that have stable capital support from banks and loans within five years," Zhou said.

He said strengthening the company's investment business will help it improve its business model and bring in more revenue.

China Communication Construction isn't the only company of its type that has begun to expand abroad by moving into the investment business. China Railway Construction Corp Ltd, another State-owned conglomerate, announced recently that it had joined Anhui Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Holding Co to invest $1.72 billion into a mine with an annual output of 20 million tons of ore in Ecuador.

The partnership also plans to build a 129-megawatt hydroelectric power station next to the surface mine, which will be in the Mirador Mine Area, according to a statement China Railway Construction released on Wednesday.

When delivering his annual Government Work Report to the National People's Congress earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to boost China's outbound direct investment. For the first time, Wen identified which industries will be targets for that spending.

"China will guide all sorts of companies to invest in the energy, raw materials, infrastructure, agriculture and service industries, through mergers and acquisitions," Wen said.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, China's overseas direct investment in non-financial industries reached $4.4 billion in January, up 59.9 percent year-on-year. Those numbers were calculated by looking at 355 overseas companies in 87 countries and regions. The value of China's outbound direct investment rose by 1.8 percent to reach $60.1 billion in 2011.

At the end of January, 811,000 Chinese were working in investment projects abroad. That number was down by 30,000 from the same period last year.

As Chinese companies make more outbound direct investments, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is calling on State-owned companies to tighten their supervision of overseas assets and has asked assets appraisal groups to conduct more evaluations of State-owned enterprises' overseas assets.