China invests in TPG

China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, appropriately named SAFE as it manages most of the country’s US$1.68trn or so in foreign reserves, has taken a US$2.5bn chunk of TPG’s latest fund, it has emerged.

TPG’s fund could even exceed Blackstone’s US$21.7bn fund that closed last year.

SAFE is increasingly competing with China’s official sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC), which has some US$80bn to invest in overseas assets.

Already, CIC has made investments in VISA, Morgan Stanley and TPG’s rival, Blackstone.

While SAFE – which is part of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China – did not comment on the TPG situation, analysts believe that China’s sovereign wealth funds are increasingly putting their money into private equity groups as a means to avoid any political backlash against their investments.

Nevertheless, the China Development Bank, which is being recapitalised by CIC, could yet increase its 3% stake in UK bank Barclays, after the latter acknowledged it was seeking a £4bn cash injection by way of a placing and pre-emptive offer to existing shareholders to shore up its balance sheet.

CIC may be a Chinese government ministry in its own right, because it reports directly to China’s cabinet, the State Council, but Gao Xiqing, its president and chief investment officer, has been at pains to explain to the Western press that CIC’s intention is to make money and not take control of any Western companies.