March 9, 2018 / 4:46 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Chinese group CEFC's European unit boosts capital

(Adds from details from statement)

PRAGUE, March 9 (Reuters) - CEFC Group (Europe), part of China’s CEFC China Energy, has raised its capital by 13.50 billion crowns ($653.3 million), a move the Prague-based unit said showed its commitment to investing in Europe.

“Raising the capital of the firm is a signal that the company is a stable and credible partner,” the company said on Friday.

CTK news agency reported the increase brought its capital to 14.65 billion crowns.

Reuters and other Chinese and international media reported last week that Ye Jianming, the chairman and founder of privately owned CEFC, had been investigated for suspected economic crimes. CEFC denied this and said operations were normal.

Referring to the media reports, CEFC Group (Europe) said it was a standalone entity and its investments in seven European countries functioned independently of the parent group.

CEFC in Europe has invested in Czech brewery group Lobkowicz, Prague soccer club Slavia Praha and hotels and real estate.

It also owns a stake in Czech-Slovak investment company J&T Finance Group and owns 49.9 percent of airline firm Travel Service, which controls national carrier Czech Airlines.

In a few years, CEFC has transformed from a niche fuel trader into an oil and finance conglomerate, with assets across the world and ambitions to be one of China’s energy giants.

On Friday, filings showed state-controlled China Huarong Asset Management Co had bought a 36.2 percent stake in the unit of CEFC China Energy through which CEFC is acquiring a $9.1 billion stake in Russia’s Rosneft.

$1 = 20.6640 Czech crowns Reporting by Jason Hovet Editing by David Evans and Edmund Blair

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