China Investment denies buying stake in ANZ Bank

Updated: 2007-12-25 17:05

China Investment Corp (CIC), the $200 billion wealth fund that last week invested $5 billion in Morgan Stanley, has denied it bought a stake in the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank).

"We didn't buy any stake," Lou Jiwei, chairman of Beijing-based China Investment, said at a press event Tuesday without elaborating. He also denied buying a stake in China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, commonly known as Sinopec.

China's government is loosening restrictions on overseas investment to counter inflows from a record trade surplus that has driven up local stock and property prices. Investing more money abroad will help cool the world's fastest-growing major economy and diversify risk for China's more than $1.4 trillion of forex reserves, the world's largest.

Lou said on November 29 that CIC "wants to be a stabilizing force in the international capital markets." He cited a "recent example" in which a similar fund invested in a financial firm that had subprime losses, without elaborating.

China Investment, which began operations in September, was set up to help improve returns on the nation's reserves and to oversee bailouts of the nation's own lenders.

Chen Yuan, president of State-owned China Development Bank today urged Chinese financial companies to increase their investments abroad. He spoke at the same event as China Investment's Lou.

A government investment fund bought a stake of less than five percent in ANZ Bank, as the Melbourne-based bank is called, according to a December 19 report by Dow Jones Newswire, which cited a person familiar with the situation.

ANZ Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith said December 18 a Chinese group has taken a stake in the lender, which is accelerating an expansion into Asia, Dow Jones said.

China Investment may invest in China Petroleum to help fund the oil company's investments abroad, the China Business News said on December 21, without saying where it got the information.

"It's not true, the report was fabricated," Lou said today in response to the China Business News report.

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