CEFC China Energy adds to stake

Updated: 2016-03-29 07:50

By CECILY LIU and FU JING in Prague(China Daily USA)

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China's largest investor in the Czech Republic is set to increase its total investment in the country to almost $1.5 billion, riding on a wave of Chinese outbound investment targeting Central and Eastern European countries as a crucial part of China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative.

The Shanghai-based CEFC China Energy, one of China's leading private companies, had already made a series of investments in previous years worth about $769 million, and will be announcing another series of new deals during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Czech Republic from March 28-30.

The company's new agreements with Czech partners are among about 20 major business deals expected to be announced during Xi's visit.

Ye Jianming, chairman of CEFC China Energy, said he believes now is an ideal time for China-Czech relations, and the Czech Republic is becoming an important bridge for China's relationship with Central and Eastern European countries.

Ye said CEFC China Energy is keen to embrace new opportunities arising from China's OBOR Initiative. In the oil sector, its strategy is to create a downstream oil supply platform in Europe, combine this strength with its upstream oil production capability in central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and supply oil through its European platform to other markets in the world.

According to the company's statement, the new deals to be announced by CEFC China Energy include a cooperative effort with China's Hengfeng Bank and the Czech steel-producer ZDAS on the establishment of a holding company in Shanghai to acquire ZDAS's heavy industry subsidiary Plzen, with investment amounting to 7.2 million euros ($8.04 million).

CEFC China Energy will also work with Beijing Luqiao Municipal Construction Holding (Group) Co to expand SK Slavia Prague football club's Eden football stadium from its current capacity of 20,000 to 35,000, with investment estimated between 400 million Czech korunas ($16.5 million) and 500 million korunas.

This deal builds on CEFC's previous investments in SK Slavia Prague football club. The company said it also plans to support Czech football by becoming a partner of the national team and youth football setup, "to promote cooperation between China and the Czech Republic".

CEFC China Energy will also extend its cooperation with J&T Finance Group and China Development Bank. It will jointly launch a China and Central and Eastern European fund with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. It will also sign a cooperation agreement with the Czech financial technology firm Rockaway, for the two firms to cooperate in the areas of ecommerce and tourism services, and acquire the Czech ecommerce platform Invita in a 50-50 investment.

CEFC China Energy, founded in 2002, has its main activities in energy and finance and in more recent years became more diversified. In 2015, it bought stakes in the Czech brewery Pivovary Lobkowicz Group, two airlines and two travel agencies, as well as a Czech-Slovak finance group. It also owns two major buildings in the center of Prague.

Zhang Ying, associate dean for China business and relations at Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, in the Netherlands, said CEFC's investment in the Czech Republic highlights the country's role as an important bridge linking China to Europe via the OBOR strategy.

Jaroslav Tvrdik, former defense minister of the Czech Republic who is acting as special affairs adviser for Czech's highest leadership, said among various agreements to be signed during Xi's visit will be investment by CEFC China Energy in the aviation sector.

Contact the writers at cecilyliu@chinadaily.com.cn