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China Fund Takes $2.8 Billion Stake in France's Total: FT

The body that manages the bulk of China's $1.65 trillion in foreign exchange reserves has bought a $2.8 billion stake in France's Total, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Friday.

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China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or Safe, began building its 1.6 percent stake in the French oil group, valued at 1.8 billion euros ($2.82 billion), several months ago, the newspaper said, quoting a person close to the company.

The investment was done with the full knowledge of Total -- the world's fourth-largest oil firm and France's biggest company by value -- and representatives of Safe are likely to have met Total's team, the person said.

Safe, which operates under the country's central bank, usually invests most of its funds in low-yielding securities, such as Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, but the Financial Times said the falling U.S. dollar has also put pressure on it to diversify its portfolio.

A Total spokesman told Reuters on Thursday that a state-owned Chinese investment fund had been buying shares in the firm in recent months, but hadn't given a value or named the fund.