LISBON, Feb. 7 -- China's Fosun International signed a contract here on Friday with Portuguese state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depositos' Caixa Seguros to buy its 80 percent stake in insurance, the latest in a series of deals made by the Portuguese government with Chinese investors.
Speaking at a signing ceremony at the Finance Ministry, Portuguese Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque said the one-billion-euro (about 1.35 billion U.S. dollars) deal, which was approved last month, was "yet another success in the privatization program" and an important step in the process of Portugal's economic recovery.
Caixa Geral de Depositos Chairman Jose de Matos said the sale of the majority stake in the insurance unit of his bank made it "stronger", while Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang said the group had a "stable and long-term" commitment to Potugal's insurance companies.
Chinese Ambassador to Portugal Huang Songfu expressed satisfaction with the Portuguese government's support for the Fosun bid, saying that the signing of the contract is "yet another big Chinese investment in Portugal" after China's Three Gorges and State Grid, which would further promote bilateral relations.
Portugal's Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas and Foreign Minister Rui Machete also attended the signing ceremony.
Last month Fosun beat American company Apollo Management International, the only other bidder, to purchase 80 percent stake of Caixa Seguros insurance for 1 billion euros.
Caixa Seguros includes insurance companies Fidelidade, Multicare and Cares and is Portugal's market leader.
Chinese capital is growing in debt-laden Portugal, with China's Three Gorges controlling 21 percent stake in EDP-Energias de Portugal SA. In 2012, China's State Grid clinched 25 percent of Portugal's national power grid REN.
These privatizations are part of a condition demanded by Portugal's international lenders, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, under a 78-billion-euro bailout program signed between the two sides in May 2011. Portugal is getting ready to exit the bailout program in June this year. (1 euro = 1.35 U.S. dollars)