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China Investment Corporation had a fine 2021, but how will this year look?

CIC’s annual reviews are always out of date, but they provide clues to what is happening now.

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Photo: iStock

It is time for China Investment Corporation’s (CIC) annual look in the rear-view mirror. Perhaps it is a sign of the pace at which our world is changing, but CIC’s annual reviews – generally published about 11 months after the conclusion of the previous year – seem so dated in recent times they could be steeped in sepia.

CIC’s 2021 was, in hindsight, a year of rare benevolence. It was a year when interest rates were low, inflation was a dim memory held only by those aged 40 or above, and Ukraine was going about its business as a free and uninvaded nation. Most of the world was moving beyond Covid-19. Not China, of course, but the international portfolio of the $1.35 trillion sovereign wealth fund doesn’t invest in China.

In this fine environment, CIC returned 14.27% on its overseas portfolio, a very good year: CIC’s annualized cumulative net return since inception is 7.22%. Next year’s report – accounting for the year that has almost concluded – isn’t going to look anything like that.

But