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Moving up the finance ladder

Updated: 2013-09-30 09:42
By Chen Jia ( China Daily)

Despite its present size and scale, China's first sovereign wealth fund had relatively humble beginnings. The Beijing-based coffers started off as a State-owned enterprise on Sept 29, 2007, with an initial investment of $200 billion.

In the early days, its role was mainly to diversify China's foreign exchange holdings and maximize returns for shareholders within acceptable levels of risk.

That role has evolved over the years to other corporate services such as equity participation in global firms, providing capital for cash-strapped enterprises and even investment in foreign utility services. CIC now has assets worth about $575 billion under its management.

Unlike several other such funds, CIC has clearly demarcated its domestic and overseas activities. While China Investment Corp International Co Ltd handles the overseas business, Central Huijin Investment Ltd manages the domestic operations.

The domestic operations of the fund are relatively modest. It is the overseas subsidiary CIC International, set up in September 2011, that has been the main face of the fund.

CIC also received a capital infusion of $49 billion from the government after the overseas unit was established. Central Huijin, on the other hand, holds controlling stakes in several State-owned financial institutions in China and also provides capital to selected domestic financial institutions.

Although it has separate entities for domestic and overseas operations, its investment portfolio is often a mixture of cash, equities, fixed-income, absolute return and long-term investments.

In addition, the fund scouts for active overseas opportunities, including mergers and acquisitions, through its overseas units and offices.

In November 2010, CIC opened its first subsidiary in Hong Kong, CIC International (Hong Kong) Co Ltd, and in January 2011 it opened an office in Toronto, Canada.

Ding Xuedong, who replaced Lou Jiwei, the founding chairman, in July, is the current head of the wealth fund. Before taking up this assignment, he was the deputy secretary-general of the State Council, the country's cabinet.