Sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC) is close to purchasing a 30% stake in GDF Suez’s (GSZ.Euronext) exploration and production business for as much as US$4.28 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. GDF Suez’s exploration and production business focuses primarily on natural gas, which accounted for US$2.25 billion, or 1.9%, of the company’s revenue last year. The deal – which is still subject to board approval – would likely pave the way for CIC to invest with GDF Suez in future energy operations across the Asia-Pacific region. GDF Suez chief executive Gérard Mestrallet plans to sell roughly US$14.18 billion in assets by 2013 to reduce debt and increase the firm’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The proposed investment in the French company underscores Beijing’s hunger for Western energy and resources, which CIC has been investing in heavily since 2009 to hedge against inflation and meet rising energy demands.