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. British energy giant BP says China has bought 1.0-percent stake

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) April 15, 2008
British energy group BP said Tuesday that an unnamed Chinese state investment fund had bought almost 1.0-percent of the group's shares, confirming an earlier media report.

"We are aware that a Chinese entity has built up a stake of slightly less than 1.0 percent over the past few months," a BP spokesman told AFP.

"We are a publicly traded company and we welcome all shareholders."

When questioned about the name of the Chinese investor he added: "I cannot confirm its identity."

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier Tuesday that a Chinese state-linked investment fund had built up a BP stake worth almost 1.0 billion pounds (1.24 billion euros, 1.96 billion dollars).

The paper, which did not cite its source, also reported that the same Chinese fund was behind the purchase of a 1.0-percent stake in French oil and gas group Total earlier this month.

BP has a current stock market capitalisation of about 104 billion pounds.

The Telegraph also quoted banking sources as saying that the British government was aware of China's stakebuilding in BP. The BP spokesman gave no comment when questioned about the topic.

British finance minister Alistair Darling visits Bejing this week in a bid to forge stronger links with China.

Darling was to meet Lou Jiwei, chairman and chief executive of the Chinese Investment Corporation, and was expected to encourage the fund to consider more investments in Britain, according to the Telegraph.

Beijing recently set up the China Investment Corporation to invest some of its vast foreign exchange reserves of 1.65 trillion dollars.

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