China's CIC to Invest $1 Billion in Russian Fund

Wall Street Journal, Brian Spegele, 13.10.2011
BEIJING — China's sovereign wealth fund will invest $1 billion in a new state-backed Russian private-equity fund, the two parties said in a statement Tuesday.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund was launched in June with backing from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev to promote foreign investment in Russia.

The commitment by China Investment Corp. will be pooled with an additional $1 billion from the Russian fund into an affiliated Russia-China Investment Fund, which will make investments in both countries, the statement said.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian fund, said the fund hopes to raise an additional $1-$2 billion from other Chinese investors. Negotiations with potential Chinese investors are under way, he added, but declined to name specific parties.

The investment by China's sovereign wealth fund is the first major deal for the Russian investment vehicle, which aims to encourage investment in Russia and build trust in its institutions at a time when concerns about Russian politics, as well as other worries, have caused foreign capital to dry up.

The fund will likely make its first transaction by the third quarter of next year, Mr. Dmitriev said. Early projects would most likely include logistics, infrastructure and agriculture, he said.

"We believe that there are numerous deals in non-resource sectors to be pursued...the focus will be very much on non-resource sectors," he said.

At least 70% of the Russia-China Investment fund will be invested in projects in Russia, or in the customs-union countries of Kazakhstan and Belarus. Up to 30% of the fund can be invested in China.

Chinese companies have been slow to invest in Russia, where they have faced popular opposition. Mr. Dmitriev said Moscow was working to address Chinese investors' concerns.

"Clearly, bureaucracy, courts and transparency are real issues and the Russian government is addressing them," he said. "People perceive Russia as more risky than it actually is, and I believe that is actually a big driver of the lack of investment."

Mr. Putin arrived in China Tuesday for a two-day visit, his first overseas trip since he announced last month plans to again seek the Russian presidency.