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China Railway Group plans regional headquarters in Malaysia - Xinhua

SHANGHAI, March 22 (Reuters) - China Railway Group plans to spend $2 billion to build a regional headquarters in Malaysia as a base for expansion into Southeast Asia, state news agency Xinhua reported the firm as saying on Monday.

The state-run company will build an office complex at Bandar Malaysia, a development project in Kuala Lumpur, in which it owns a 60 percent stake through a joint venture.

Chinese firms have been vying for construction contracts in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, heeding a government call to extend China's regional influence.

Bandar Malaysia is set to be the terminal for a proposed high-speed rail link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. China is expected to compete against Japanese and European firms for that project, estimated by Malaysian media to be worth about $10 billion.

China Railway Group said it would consolidate all its regional businesses and operations in the new Bandar Malaysia headquarters, and would use it as a base to expand into other parts of Southeast Asia, Xinhua said.

China Railway Group President Zhang Zhongyan said the project marked a new investor role for the company in Malaysia.

"In the past, we were contractor, so this project is of much significance for us in the sense that we partner with local companies to invest and to build this transport and commercial hub," he told Xinhua. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates)