Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 17:46 UK

China government buys Total stake

Total petrol station
Total is one the world's largest energy firms

France's oil firm Total has said a Chinese state-run fund has acquired part of the firm.

A spokesperson for Total would not name the fund or specify the size of the stake but said it was less than 5% and "not negligible".

According to the Financial Times, the fund bought 1.6% of the French firm.

State-controlled funds, especially from Asia and the Middle East, have faced criticism because of fears strategic assets may end up in foreign hands.

However, such investments have become increasingly attractive, especially for those countries with large amounts of foreign currency.

The Financial Times said the buyer was China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the body that manages most of China's $1.65bn foreign exchange reserves.

Merrill Lynch recently announced that it has sold shares worth $4.4bn (2.2bn) to the Singapore government's investment arm.

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