Sorry, the Chinese government doesnt appear to own any shares of Google.
For China watchers expecting some big revelations from China Investment Corp.s first public disclosure of its U.S. stock portfolio, the filing must be disappointing. CICs $9.6 billion of holdings of U.S. stocks represent a plain-vanilla swath of companies rather than a road map for a Chinese take-over of certain U.S. industries.
Still, there are some notable picks. Remember how China National Offshore Oil Corp., or Cnooc, felt forced to scuttle its 2005 bid for Unocal after regulators raised concerns about a Chinese company owning a U.S. energy company? Well, China is keeping a small hand in the U.S energy industry by owning stakes, for example, in energy companies Chesapeake Energy Corp, Valero and U.S. Oil Fund, an exchange traded fund that is one of the biggest players in the oil market.
In a similar vein, China’s Huawei Technologies was rebuffed in its bid to acquire telecommunications concern 3Com in a join venture with Bain Capital in 2008 because of national security concerns. CIC now owns small stakes in Motorola and Sprint-Nextel (valued at $3.8 million and $1.4 million respectively).
The CIC has made some big bets on the financial industry, buying stakes in Morgan Stanley (valued at $1.7 billion), Black Rock ($713 million) and Citigroup (9 million shares valued at $29.7 million). The filing doesnt reveal when these investments were made or at what prices the shares were bought, so it is difficult to gauge how the investments have fared.
Commentators have picked up on the fact that CICs $3 billion investment in Blackstone Group, made shortly before the private-equity firm’s mid-2007 IPO, isn’t mentioned in the filing. Blackstone’s shares are down 64% from the IPO price.
The CIC report, filed Friday, marks the first time the fundone of the world’s most-watched investorshas listed its holdings in such detail, but as this WSJ article notes, it isn’t clear why CIC made the filing now or why the list isn’t complete. It quotes at a CIC spokeswoman as saying only that it made the disclosure “according to SEC requirements.”
So, questions abound. Why, for instance, did China buy into such tech staples as Apple and Research in Motion, but not Google, the company threatening to pull out of China to protest censorship.
Maybe there is still room for intrigue after all.