China Investment Corp., the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to move Managing Director Winston Ma to Canada to bolster investment bids for natural resources assets, said a company official with direct knowledge of the matter.
Ma, who is part of the special investments department at CIC, was appointed deputy head of the fund’s only office outside the Greater China region this month, according to the executive, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.
Chinese companies have bid $25 billion this year for overseas assets ranging from natural gas to copper in a bid to secure the energy and raw materials needed to feed the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Central bank adviser Xia Bin last month advocated using China’s more than $3 trillion of foreign exchange reserves, some of which have been directed to CIC, to secure the resources the nation needs.
Ma’s move will “help CIC to collect more information on the ground from Canada, where natural resources from commodities to water are becoming increasingly popular among global bidders,” Nick Zeng, chairman of the China Mining Association of Canada, said by phone today from Beijing. “But the major barriers to get deals done could be the different cultural backgrounds and growing competition from U.S. bidders.”
A CIC press official, who refused to be identified because of the fund’s rules, declined to comment.
CIC is the world’s fifth-biggest country fund with $332.4 billion of assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. China’s SAFE Investment Co. manages $347.1 billion, the fourth-largest, the research company said.
Ma, 37, will report to Felix Chee in Toronto and to CIC officials in Beijing as he seeks investments in energy assets and agricultural commodities, the executive said. Chee, who was a special adviser to CIC’s chief investment officer, was named chief representative of the $300 billion fund’s Canadian office in January, according to a statement on its website.
CIC’s special investments department was involved in energy-related deals including a $1.5 billion investment in Canadian mining company Teck Resources Ltd. (TCK) in July 2009 and $1.58 billion in U.S. power company AES Corp. (AES) in November 2009, according to the fund’s website. CIC in November said it set up a subsidiary in Hong Kong, making that its first unit outside the mainland.
The fund was set up in 2007 with $200 billion in initial capital. China’s Ministry of Finance raised money by selling yuan-denominated bonds, which it used to purchase foreign currency from the nation’s foreign exchange reserves that was then injected into the fund.
CIC’s Chairman Lou Jiwei said last month that the fund may get more capital to invest in foreign markets, China National Radio reported. The fund invested all its cash and cash equivalents last year and is awaiting the government’s decision on additional funding, Executive Vice President Jesse Wang told a forum in Beijing on Jan. 15.
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