GDF Suez looks to China fund for new projects

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French power company GDF Suez said Monday it would use a partnership with China's sovereign wealth fund to find new projects in Southeast Asia, Africa or Latin America.

GDF Suez announced in August that the China Investment Corporation (CIC) would invest 2.3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in exchange for a 30-percent stake in the French company's exploration and production arm.

Chairman and chief executive Gerard Mestrallet, in Beijing to sign the agreement, said that while China was a "core market" for the company, the tie-up with CIC could help it expand elsewhere.

"CIC could help GDF Suez to find Chinese partners to participate jointly in projects in Southeast Asia, in Africa or in Latin America," he said at a news conference.

GDF Suez employs 11,000 people in the Asia-Pacific region. Mestrallet said the group, which is already involved in water treatment projects in China, was keen to expand in the country's rapidly growing energy industry.

"We want to expand our presence not only in the environment (industry) but also in the energy market," he told journalists ahead of a meeting with China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who is in charge of energy policy.

The company also signed an agreement to supply Chinese energy giant CNOOC with a ship that can store and regasify liquid natural gas, executive vice president Jean-Marie Dauger said.

China relies mainly on coal to supply its vast energy needs, but it is increasingly turning towards gas.

CIC was established in 2007 to invest some of China's huge foreign exchange reserves in global financial markets.

© 2011 AFP

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