July 28, 2021

DealBook: China’s Wealth Fund Buys Stake in British Utility

Workers for Thames Water Utilities repaired a leak on London's Oxford Street on Friday.Simon Dawson/Bloomberg NewsWorkers for Thames Water Utilities repaired a leak on London’s Oxford Street on Friday.

6:38 p.m. | Updated

LONDON — The China Investment Corporation, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, announced Friday that it had acquired an 8.68 percent stake in Thames Water, Britain’s largest water and sewerage company.

This is the first investment in Britain by the China Investment Corporation, which was created in 2007 and has $410 billion of assets under management as of 2010, the latest figures available. The sovereign wealth fund was established to invest the proceeds from China’s foreign currency reserves, which total more than $3 trillion.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but it was welcomed by George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer.

“It is a vote of confidence in Britain as a place to invest and do business,” Mr. Osborne said in a statement. “This investment is good news for both the British and Chinese economies.”

The announcement follows a recent trip by Mr. Osborne to China in an effort to increase trade between the two countries. British officials announced Friday the creation of a working group with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization, to promote Chinese investment in British infrastructure projects.

George Osborne, second from left, Britain's chancellor of the Exchequer, met with officials in Beijing this week.David Gray/ReutersGeorge Osborne, second from left, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, met with officials in Beijing this week.

This week, Mr. Osborne said he wanted to turn London into a major foreign exchange trading center for the Chinese renminbi to benefit from faster growth in Asia, while strengthening the city’s position as a financial center after the banking crisis.

Last year, the China Investment Corporation chairman, Lou Jiwei, said the sovereign wealth fund was looking to invest in the infrastructure of developed countries, including Britain.

Thames Water, which oversees the water network in southern England, has attracted attention from sovereign wealth funds before. In December, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority said it had acquired a 9.9 percent share of Thames Water.

The British water utility company is owned by a consortium of firms led by the Australian bank Macquarie. The group bought Thames Water, which has about 14 million customers, from the German company RWE in 2006 for £8 billion ($12.4 billion).

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e65cd82ac0c0fc6fb3655a0e2d261809

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