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Citi, DBS moves confirm financial opening-up gaining momentum

By Jiang Xueqing | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-04 09:23
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Pedestrians walk past a Citi outlet in Shanghai. [Photo by Jin Rong/For China Daily]

China has accelerated the opening-up of its financial sector to overseas investors by streamlining regulatory requirements and easing restrictions on foreign companies.

Citibank (China) Co Ltd said on Wednesday that it has received a domestic fund custody license from the China Securities Regulatory Commission, becoming the first US bank and the first among the top five global custodians to win such a license. The license will enable Citi to provide custodial services to mutual funds and private funds domiciled in China, after passing CSRC's on-site inspection later this year.

"We are proud to be able to help our global clients gain access to China's capital markets which are experiencing a new round of comprehensive reforms. There are tremendous opportunities for global players to participate. Citi is well positioned to help them navigate these potential opportunities," said Christine Lam, president and chief executive officer of Citi China.

Stuart Staley, head of markets and securities services for Citi Asia-Pacific, said:"We are pleased to play an ongoing role in the development of China's financial markets. This license is further validation of China's commitment to continue to open up its financial markets."

Singapore-based DBS Group said on Wednesday that it has got the CSRC nod to set up DBS Securities (China) Ltd, a joint venture securities company in which DBS Group will have a controlling stake.

Aiming to provide onshore products and services for domestic and international customers, DBS Securities will be an important part of DBS Group's strategy in China. Businesses that it will engage in include brokerage, securities investment consulting, securities underwriting and sponsorship, as well as proprietary trading.

"This year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Singapore. Likewise, DBS Group has been supporting China's financial development in the past 30 years. The ability to set up a securities company in China represents yet another key milestone, enabling us to make available the best of DBS' capabilities and offerings, and provide customers in China with a full range of onshore and offshore financial services," said Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Group.

China will lift foreign ownership limits on securities, fund management and futures companies by the end of this year, a year ahead of the schedule, said the State Council's Office of Financial Stability and Development Committee last year when it announced 11 measures to further expand the financial sector's opening-up. The central government also allowed foreign asset managers to partner with subsidiaries of Chinese banks or insurers to establish foreign-controlled asset management companies.

Since 2018, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has given foreign banks and insurers approval to establish nearly 100 institutions of various types in China.

Korean Reinsurance Co received approval last year for a branch office in Shanghai, after its first office in the Chinese mainland opened in Beijing in 1997.

During the first six months of this year, China gave the green light to Chubb Ltd, a global insurance and reinsurance company, to purchase an additional 15.3 percent of Huatai Insurance Group Co Ltd. Upon completion of the share purchases, Chubb is expected to own 46.2 percent of Huatai Insurance Group.

The CBIRC, China's top banking and insurance regulator, also approved a foreign-controlled wealth management joint venture between US asset manager BlackRock Inc, Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd and China Construction Bank Corp, said a spokesman for the CBIRC on Aug 22.

"Currently, there are still some financial institutions from Asia, Europe and the Americas doing market research in China. Some have made clear their business expansion plans in the country, and some have submitted their initial applications for the establishment of financial institutions in China. We estimate that a growing number of foreign institutions will take part in Chinese financial markets over a period of time in the future, and they will become an effective strength for high-quality development of the domestic financial sector," the spokesman said.

"The CBIRC will unwaveringly fulfill its commitment to opening-up, continue to steadily raise the level of opening-up of the banking and insurance sectors while ensuring financial security, keep improving regulatory measures and enhance the capacity of financial management and risk control," he said.

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