What Is the China Investment Corporation (CIC)?
China Investment Corporation is a sovereign wealth fund established in 2007 to diversify the country's foreign-exchange holdings. It is the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world, managing assets worth more than $1.35 trillion and making significant investments worldwide. The portfolio of CIC is divided into private and public entities that cover different asset classes and sectors. Furthermore, the China Investment Corporation oversees three subsidiaries.
Established in 2007, the China Investment Corporation is the premier sovereign wealth fund (SWF) representing the People's Republic of China. With assets under management (AUM) exceeding $1.35 trillion, the CIC's strategic focus revolves around long-term investments in both global public and private assets. This diversification strategy is instrumental in managing and expanding the nation's foreign exchange reserves.
The CIC's operational footprint extends through three subsidiary entities, complemented by a pair of international offices. Its status as the world's largest sovereign wealth fund underscores its pivotal role in shaping global financial landscapes.
Unveiling the China Investment Corporation (CIC)
Ranked as the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation outpaces its global counterparts, including the Norway Government Pension Fund Global, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Kuwait Investment Authority, and Singapore's GIC Private Limited. These state-owned entities derive their financial sustenance from various sources, including surpluses, revenues, and transfer payments. Although diverse, their overarching mission centers on bolstering their respective nations' economies and benefiting their citizens.
The CIC, born in Beijing in September 2007, was conceived to augment China's foreign reserves and secure optimal returns for its stakeholders. Commencing with an initial endowment of $200 billion in registered capital, the CIC has since burgeoned to a formidable $1.35 trillion, as per its 2021 annual report.
Operated through committee-driven decision-making processes, the CIC upholds four core tenets:
- Pursuing maximum returns within acceptable risk thresholds
- Prioritizing returns over corporate control
- Embracing the mantle of a "responsible investor," adhering scrupulously to China's laws and recipient nations' regulations, and conscientiously discharging corporate social responsibilities
- Conducting exhaustive research to underpin judicious and disciplined decision-making
Diversified investments span a gamut of asset classes, encompassing equities, bonds, hedge funds, and credit investments across agriculture, commodities, infrastructure, and real estate. The CIC meticulously balances its portfolio between private and public entities, underpinned by robust professional investment personnel, corporate governance, and risk management practices.
As of December 31, 2021, the fund's portfolio exhibited the following allocation:
- 47%: Alternative assets, encompassing hedge funds, risk parity investments, industry-wide private equity, private credit, real estate, infrastructure, resources, and commodities
- 35.4%: Public equity
- 15.4%: Fixed income, inclusive of sovereign and corporate bonds
- 2.2%: Cash holdings, comprising U.S. Treasury bills and overnight deposits
Beyond China's borders, the CIC maintains a global presence through two overseas offices located in Hong Kong and New York.
CIC's Evolution and Subsidiaries
Since its inception in 2007, CIC has undergone substantial growth and transformation. The investment entity currently operates through three distinct subsidiaries:
- CIC International: Established in 2011, CIC International focuses on international investments, encompassing public market equities, fixed-income securities, and various alternative asset funds, such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate, and venture capital.
- CIC Capital Corporation: Formed in 2015, this subsidiary engages in direct investments, targeting alternative assets that are not held within pooled investment vehicles.
- Central Huijin Investment: Initially part of CIC, this entity was later separated. Its primary role involves acquiring equity stakes in state-owned financial institutions within the country. As a shareholder, Central Huijin Investment actively exercises its rights to drive necessary changes aimed at enhancing the stability and performance of these institutions.
Criticizing CIC's Expansive Overseas Portfolio
In recent years, the China Investment Corporation has faced heightened criticism due to its burgeoning overseas asset holdings, coinciding with China's ambition to assert dominance in critical technology sectors and its increasing global economic and financial influence. Notable investments encompass iconic infrastructure assets such as London's Heathrow Airport.
The U.S. Treasury Department has closely examined China's foreign investment activities, particularly its substantial allocation of foreign exchange reserves into U.S. assets. This scrutiny includes the China-U.S. Industrial Cooperation Partnership, a joint investment fund in collaboration with Goldman Sachs, targeting U.S. manufacturing and health-related firms. Despite initial expectations, the joint fund managed to raise only $2.5 billion, half of its anticipated amount.
The China Investment Corporation is a global sovereign wealth fund with assets exceeding $1.35 trillion. Established in 2007, it diversifies China's foreign exchange holdings and operates through three subsidiaries. However, its expansive overseas portfolio has faced scrutiny, notably by the U.S. Treasury Department, due to China's increasing global economic influence. Despite challenges, the CIC remains a formidable player in the global financial arena.