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People's Daily Online>>China Business

CIC buys minority stake in Thames Water

By Richard Fu (Shanghai Daily)

08:55, January 21, 2012

CHINA'S US$410 billion sovereign wealth fund has bought a minority stake in Thames Water, a water and sewage company, in its first acquisition in the UK.

China Investment Corp said in a statement yesterday that it acquired an 8.68 percent stake in Thames Water through a wholly-owned unit. But CIC did not provide a value for the deal.

The CIC transaction followed a visit to Beijing earlier this week by George Osborne, the UK's finance minister, who is seeking Chinese investments in his country's infrastructure sector.

"It is a vote of confidence in Britain as a place to invest and do business. This (CIC) investment is good news for both the British and Chinese economies," Osborne was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The deal marks the second recent foreign acquisition of a stake in Thames Water, the UK's largest water and wastewater service provider, after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority bought 9.9 percent in Kemble Water Holdings, the parent of the utility.

CIC executives previously said it was keen to invest in infrastructure of Western countries. The lingering European sovereign debt crisis has made assets there attractive to investors all over the world.

Thames Water says it services 8.8 million customers across London and the Thames Valley and handles sewage for an area with 14 million customers.

CIC faced criticism over the performance of investments made just as the 2008 global crisis was developing.

But its performance has improved since, and the fund said that it made an 11.7 percent return in 2010, the latest year for which results have been reported.

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