The Chinese Investment Corporation, ChinaÆs embryonic sovereign wealth fund, has just issued requests for proposals to fund management companies for four equity-oriented asset classes.

Fund execs in Hong Kong say the RFPs require them to register interest by the end of this week and to submit proposals by January 15 û continuing a suspected tendency by Chinese institutions to disrupt Christmas holidays for Western-owned service providers.

Gao Xiqing, an executive director at CIC, is in charge of investment policy. He joined the organisation earlier this year after serving as vice chairman at the National Council for Social Security Fund. His influence is clear, as investment executives say the CICÆs inaugural outsourcing is being handled in the same way that the SSF did. The process is the same, as are requirements for size (minimum $5 billion of assets under management) and experience (a six-year track record in the asset class).

The key difference is the CICÆs ability to stomach risk. The SSFÆs first mandates included three mandates for global fixed income and one for currency, as well as for Hong Kong equities, enhanced US equities and global equities minus the United States. Firms that picked up multiple mandates were Allianz Global Investors as well as affiliate Pimco; Axa Investment Managers and group subsidiearies Axa Rosenberg and AllianceBernstein; and BlackRock.

The CIC is going for aggressive mandates in equities, with an emphasis on emerging markets. For example, its global equity mandate calls for beating the MSCI All Country Index by 300 basis points. Other mandates include the MSCI EAFE Equity Index (Europe, Australia, Far East), global emerging-market equity and Asia ex-Japan equity.

ôThe real goal for the CIC is to generate returns that at least match the appreciation of the renminbi,ö says Peter Alexander of Shanghai consultancy Z-Ben Advisers. He suspects that the different nature of the mandates suggests CICÆs roster of fund houses will end up quite different to SSFÆs.

The big unknown is the size of these mandates. Fund managers in Hong Kong who say they plan to pitch for the deals, including some who won SSF money, say they have no idea what size the CIC will mandate, or if there will be multiple mandates per asset class. The SSF has not disclosed its mandate sizes but industry players agree the total sum of its first batch of 12 mandates reached around $1 billion.

Another twist will be fees. Generally fund management companies are willing to offer discounts to prestige institutional clients. But in the current environment, many fund managers are turning away money due to capacity issues. Will they decide that winning CIC business at a discount when they can charge the full rate to other clients is worth it? And will the CIC recognise this and pay standard fees? These are likely to be topics in many boardrooms over the coming two months.

The CIC was officially launched in September with around $200 billion allocated from ChinaÆs foreign reserve portfolio. ChinaÆs vice minister of finance Li Yong has said one third of CICÆs capital will be used to purchase Central Huijin, a Temasek-like state investment agency that controls state-owned banks. Another third will be used to inject assets into Agricultural Bank of China and China Development Bank. The rest is slated for investment in global financial markets, including direct stakes in foreign companies.