Russia seeing 'surge' of investment from China

Russia pivoting towards Middle East?
Russia pivoting towards Middle East?   

A slew of Chinese companies are investing in Russia, according to the CEO of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, who said it was helping to negate the void caused by international sanctions.

Speaking at the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), underlined the importance of China's relationship with Russia.

"We have a special program where we co-invest with people to localize their production in Russia, and frankly we see (a) major surge of strategies from China," he told CNBC on the sidelines of the event.

"So a little bit less European countries are coming in right now, but lots of Chinese companies are coming in in mass. So we believe that for Russia it's important to continue working with China, but also to have a strategic relationship with Europe."

Russia annexed the southern Ukrainian area of Crimea in March 2014 and, as a result, has faced tough economic sanctions from Western nations.

Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

These sanctions have hit the country's economy hard, along with a dramatic fall in the price of oil which Russia remains heavily reliant on for revenues. The international community has witnessed a pivot by Russia towards the world's second-largest economy, with several major gas deals and trade pacts between the two countries announced last year.

Global hot spots
Global hot spots   

Dmitriev said he hoped the sanctions would ease this year, and highlighted that Europe remains an important market for Russia. But he added that he was currently working mostly with Middle Eastern nations, like the United Arab Emirates, and Asian countries like China.

The RDIF is a $10-billion fund established by the Russian government to make equity investments that are mostly concentrated in the Russian economy.

It has brought over $15 billion of foreign capital into the country through long-term strategic partnerships, according to its website.

"We mostly look for Middle Eastern and Asian investors right now, around 90 percent of the $15 billion that we raised in our joint platforms comes from Asian and the Middle East," Dmitriev said.

"But we also hope a lot to work with European investors, similarly with U.S. investors and many others, once our situation gets more stable geopolitically."