China Investment Has 11.7% Global Return in 2009 as Commodity Bets Pay Off

China’s sovereign wealth fund posted an 11.7 percent return on its overseas portfolio in 2009, reversing a loss a year earlier, according to the official China Central Television.

Net income almost doubled to $41.7 billion, CCTV reported today, citing China Investment Corp.’s 2009 annual report. Total return on equity, including gains from the overseas portfolio and holdings in local banks, was 12.9 percent, compared to 6.8 percent in 2008, according to CCTV.

The fund spent $58 billion in global investments last year, more than double the combined amount for the previous two years, CCTV said. Investments in 2009 ranged from U.S. power producer AES Corp. to Indonesia’s PT Bumi Resources. Beijing-based CIC is asking the Chinese government for more funds to invest, Executive Vice President Jesse Wang said last month.

“The CIC’s focus on resources should have contributed to strong performances in 2009,” said Rachel Ziemba, London-based senior analyst at Roubini Global Economics, before the announcement. As many sovereign wealth funds have seen an increase in assets with a global market rally, “it would be shocking if CIC had not had strong returns,” she said. “But the truth will come in 2010 and beyond given the risks to the risky assets that dominate CIC’s portfolio.”

Temasek Holdings Pte, Singapore’s state investment firm, this month said assets climbed 43 percent to S$186 billion ($135 billion) in the year to March 31.

Volatile Economy

CIC had 24.68 percent of its global portfolio in public equity markets, Wang said at the Asia Banking and Finance Conference last month. The sovereign wealth fund holds about 18 percent of its investments in fixed-income securities and 8.8 percent in inflation-linked products, he said at the time. Almost 7 percent is held in private-equity funds.

“CIC should fare well in 2010 as they have renewed confidence, a more experienced organization, and clear strategy,” said Victoria Barbary, senior analyst at Monitor Group in London. “But the global economy is quite volatile so there are far more external forces that have to be understood and responded to.”

The MSCI World Index, which surged 27 percent in 2009, has dropped 3.3 percent this year as the European debt crisis and China’s efforts to curb asset bubbles threatened the global recovery. Bumi Resources, Indonesia’s biggest coal producer in which CIC made its largest investment announced in 2009, has fallen nearly 30 percent.

Natural Resources

CIC in May agreed to invest C$817 million ($790 million) in a new oil-sands venture with Canada’s Penn West Energy Trust, gaining a stake in the world’s largest crude deposits outside Saudi Arabia. The company bought stakes worth about 650 million euros ($845 million) in Apax Partners LLP’s private-equity fund from investors, a person familiar with the transaction said in February.

“Our preliminary data for the first half of 2010 suggests that CIC is continuing to pursue its strategy of investing in natural resources and sharing risk through partnerships and managed funds, as well as some exposure to private equity,” Barbary said. “Again their strategy seems to be reasonable returns, with a risk profile that limits the downside, and protects against dollar-based inflation/devaluation.”

--Zhang Dingmin. Editors: Malcolm Scott, Andreea Papuc

To contact the Bloomberg News staff for this story: Zhang Dingmin in Beijing at Dzhang14@bloomberg.net

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