May 27, 2012 / 10:38 AM / in 5 years

China enters new era of services expansion with Singapore CPG buy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China broadened its overseas investment strategy into the services industry on Sunday, with the country’s top state-owned design and management purchasing a Singapore design firm.

China’s “going out” policy has led to a number of overseas acquisitions in the past decade, primarily in the natural resources and equipment sectors, as the nation draws on its stockpile of foreign reserves to obtain much-needed raw materials.

Having invested heavily in “hardware,” Beijing is now encouraging the upgrade of the nation’s “software” or technical skills.

On Sunday, China Architecture Design and Research Group, the country’s largest diversified state-owned engineering design and services company, announced it had bought CPG Corp from Australian heavy engineering firm Downer Group for A$147 million. The deal was brokered by Swiss investment bank UBS.

“This is the first time for China’s high-tech services industry to go out and successfully complete an overseas acquisition,” Xiu Long, the head of the Chinese group, told reporters.

“This is not an opportunistic purchase but part of the national policy to encourage going out and improving international competitiveness.”

CPG Corp., formally Singapore’s Public Works Group, specializes in designing public buildings and infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, including Qatar’s new airport in Doha. The deal includes its subsidiaries in the Asia-Pacific region, and its 5 percent stake in an industrial park in Suzhou.

Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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