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Itochu and Citic plan $1.8bn fund to usher Japan startups into China

Chinese conglomerate looks to attract cutting-edge tech amid trade war

Itochu and Citic will work with Tsinghua University's investment unit on the fund.

TOKYO -- Japanese trading house Itochu is teaming up with China's state conglomerate Citic to launch a 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) venture capital fund. Their goal: to nudge Japanese startups into the Chinese market.

The two companies, which are capital alliance partners, will work with Tsinghua University's investment unit on the fund. Startups looking to draw money will be obliged to make a move into China, which hopes to attract cutting-edge technology amid its ongoing trade and tech conflict with the U.S.

Itochu agreed on the plan with Hong Kong-based Xinjin Investment Holding, a Citic subsidiary, on Friday, Nikkei has learned. Itochu will be in charge of finding promising startups.

Tsinghua University's investment arm, TUS Holdings, has supported more than 500 startups and holds a 10% stake in Xinjin Investment, which will evaluate candidate ventures.

Itochu and Xinjin Investment aim to collect 120 billion yen in capital by the end of this year, by raising funds from other companies in the Citic group. They intend to start investing in August.

This would be Itochu's biggest collaboration with Citic after it invested 600 billion yen in the Chinese company in 2015.

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