It is a rare event when the world gets a peek into the stock portfolio of a $300 billion Chinese sovereign-wealth fund. Thanks to a regulatory filing that China Investment Corp. made with U.S. securities regulators, investors are now able to do just that.

They can see, for instance, that CIC holds shares of American International Group Inc., Apple Inc. and Citigroup Inc., as well as the same sorts of index funds many small investors buy to get broad exposure to different markets.

What insights can investors glean about the fund’s strategy and how the people who run it view the markets? Here are some answers to these and other questions raised by CIC’s disclosure.

Is China building strategic stakes in major U.S. companies like Apple and Coca-Cola Co. through its sovereign-wealth fund?

Unlikely. CIC held just 30,000 shares of Apple at the end of 2009, representing an insignificant amount of the 907 million shares outstanding. The same calculation works for the other U.S. blue-chip holdings: each is a tiny number, mostly less than 1%. The exceptions are its negotiated investments in companies such as Morgan Stanley and BlackRock Inc. In both those cases, the company’s management sought out and welcomed CIC’s investment.

Chinese companies attempting to buy major stakes in U.S. firms have at times met with political resistance and rejection, and CIC’s management is aware of the sensitivities that would be raised by its own presence as a major shareholder in certain companies. In fact, CIC management has said so in the past.

How much of CIC and China’s overall portfolio does this represent?

A relatively small portion. The $9.6 billion invested in U.S.-listed equities is less than 10% of CIC’s $110 billion allocated for international investments. It is an even smaller fraction of the Chinese government’s overall portfolio if you consider the $2.27 trillion in reserves held by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange at the end of September. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is concerned with U.S. public-market investors, so stakes in unlisted holdings by CIC aren’t included. Many of the holdings disclosed in the filing are shares in foreign companies with American depositary receipts or exchange-traded funds whose underlying assets are outside the U.S.

Does that mean that China is bearish on the U.S. market?

Hard to say. It is likely that CIC has much more invested in the U.S. and elsewhere on its behalf by outside managers. Some estimate CIC has put more than $25 billion into markets through outside managers. CIC hasn’t released any indication of the size of those allocations in 2009, which will probably only be disclosed in its annual report later this year. It has also placed billions of dollars into fixed-income products, hedge funds and private-equity funds. None of those are covered by its 13F filing with the SEC.

Senior CIC officials, including Chairman Lou Jiwei, have said in the past that they believe there are better investment opportunities in emerging markets, including China. Many foreign investors take a similar view, and U.S. investors pumped a record amount of money into overseas mutual funds last year. However, CIC retains large stakes in U.S. financial firms including Morgan Stanley and Blackstone Group, despite the decline in the value of those investments.

What does the filing tell us about CIC’s strategy?

It appears CIC is giving its in-house portfolio managers a chance to construct investing strategies with a tiny proportion of CIC’s own money to deploy into relatively blue-chip companies that they believe either have strong growth prospects or are undervalued. Names on the list such as insurer AIG and Citigroup were hit hard in the financial crisis and would benefit from a rebound in the U.S. economy. Interestingly, CIC held a $5 million stake in Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., a company that at the end of 2009 was in the middle of a takeover offer from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The strategy of holding stakes in companies in the middle of takeovers is called ‘merger arbitrage.’ It is a common hedge-fund strategy and depends on the ability of a fund to read the likelihood of a deal being completed better than the market.

Is China’s sovereign-wealth fund becoming more transparent by making such a disclosure?

The SEC requires any institutional investors holding more than $100 million in U.S.-listed securities to submit the same sort of 13F filing that CIC made. So it is fair to say that CIC wasn’t doing this because of a desire for transparency, even if transparency is the end result.

In fact, CIC’s president, Gao Xiqing, has said he doesn’t believe it is smart for CIC to reveal its holdings and positions because it allows the market to move against them. This is a similar view that many hedge funds take, and they also have to file Form 13Fs to the SEC, which are usually disclosed. A few managers, such as Mr. Buffett, sometimes receive exemptions because they are pursuing trading strategies that take place over extended periods of time, which they argue could be adversely impacted by other market participants knowing certain holdings. But that is ultimately the SEC’s call, not the manager’s.

Rick Carew

解读中投持股报告

世界得以一窥中国3000亿美元主权财富基金的股权投资组合,是一件难得的事。由于中国投资有限责任公司(China Investment Corp.,简称中投公司)向美国证券监管机构提交了监管备案文件,投资者现在得以一窥其股权投资组合的究竟。

例如他们可以看见,中投在美国国际集团(American International Group Inc.)、苹果公司(Apple Inc.)和花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)持有股份,并持有很多小投资者买来进行分散投资的指数型基金。

对于中投的战略及其管理层的市场观点,投资者可以从中获得怎样的印象?下文对中投持股报告引起的各种疑问做出一些解答。

中国是否正在通过它的主权财富基金,积累苹果公司和可口可乐(Coca-Cola Co.)等美国大公司的战略股权?

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中投到底是不是大灰狼?
中投在美国股市投资了什么
中铝无意将所持力拓股份售予中投
可能性不大。截至2009年年底,中投才持有30,000股苹果公司股票,在苹果9.07亿流通股中显得微不足道。中投持有的其他美国蓝筹股同样是这种情况:每一种都是微量持有,多数不到1%。例外的只有它在摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)和贝莱德(BlackRock Inc.)等公司的协议投资。对这两家公司的投资,都是公司管理层通过努力找到了中投,并主动引进了中投的投资。

试图购买美国公司多数股权的中国企业时常遇到政治上的阻力和拒绝,中投管理管层也知道,如果它成为某些公司的大股东,会是多么的敏感。事实上中投公司在过去也曾这么说过。

这在中投公司以及中国的所有投资组合中占多大的份量?

这只是一个较小的部分。中投公司配置了1,100亿美元用于海外投资,投资于美国上市企业股票的96亿美元只占其中不到10%。如果你考虑到截至去年9月底中国国家外汇管理局(State Administration of Foreign Exchange)持有的2.27万亿美元外汇储备,那么中投公司所持美股在中国政府的整个投资组合中就显得更加微不足道了。美国证券交易委员会(U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)关注的是美国公开市场的投资者,所以中投公司所持未上市公司股份并没有包含在其中。备案文件披露的所持股份中,很多都是拥有美国存托凭证的外国公司,或基础资产位于美国国外的交易所交易基金。

这是否意味着中国看空美国市场?

Bloomberg News
楼继伟
这个难说。中投公司让外部管理人代表自己在美国和其他地方的投资可能还有很多。一些人估计,中投公司通过外部管理人进行的投资已经超过250亿美元。中投并未透露2009年在这方面所配置资产规模的蛛丝马迹,或许只会在今年晚些时候的年度报告中才会披露。中投还在固定收益产品、对冲基金和私募股权基金中配置了数十亿美元,它提交给美国证券交易委员会的“13F”格式备案文件没有提及其中任何一项。

包括董事长楼继伟在内的中投公司高管过去曾说过,他们认为新兴市场有更好的投资机会,包括中国在内。很多外国投资者持同样的看法,而美国投资者去年向海外共同基金投入了规模创纪录的资金。不过,中投公司保留了在包括摩根士丹利和百仕通集团(Blackstone Group)在内的美国金融公司的巨额股权,尽管这些投资的价值缩水了。

中投公司向监管机构提交的文件显示出了该公司什么样的战略?

看起来,中投公司正在给内部投资组合经理们一个机会来构建投资战略,把中投公司自有资金中的一小部分投入他们认为拥有强劲增长前景或估值过低的相对来说的蓝筹股公司。保险公司AIG和花旗集团等中投投资名单上的公司在金融危机中遭受了严重打击,它们也将从美国经济的复苏中获益。值得注意的是,中投公司在Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.持有500万美元股权;而该公司在2009年底时正处于被巴菲特(Warren Buffett)名下的伯克希尔哈撒韦公司(Berkshire Hathaway Inc.)提议收购的过程中。这种持有收购过程中的公司股权的战略被称为“合并套戥”。这是一种常见的对冲基金战略,取决于一只基金对进行中的交易结果好于市场水平可能性的判断能力。

中国的主权财富基金是在通过这样的信息披露变得更加透明吗?

根据SEC的要求,任何持有1亿美元以上美国上市证券的机构投资者都要向监管机构提交类似中投公司提交的13F监管文件。因此,可以说中投公司这样做并不是为了透明度,即使最终的结果是透明度提高。

实际上,中投公司总经理高西庆曾说,他认为中投公司披露持股和头寸状况是不明智的,因为这样市场就可以反向而动了。很多对冲基金持同样的看法,它们也必须向SEC提交13F表──这类文件通常会被披露。巴菲特等少数经理有时获准免于提交文件,原因是他们正在从事要在较长时间内实施的交易战略;他们辩称,这些战略可能受到其他了解某些持股情况的市场参与者的不利影响。不过这最终要由SEC、而非经理们决定。

Rick Carew

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