Hang Seng to take majority stake in Chinese asset manager

Added 20th June 2016

Chinese regulators have approved Hang Seng Bank's application to take a majority stake in a new asset manager, making the newly-formed company the first onshore fund house with a majority stake held by a non-mainland entity.

Hang Seng to take majority stake in Chinese asset manager

Hang Seng is allowed to own 70% of the newly-formed Hang Seng Qianhai Fund Management Company. which will have a registered capital of RMB200m (£20.7m, $30.4m), according to an authority statement.

Hang Seng's application for the joint venture was submitted in July 2015 under the under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).

The bank's partner in the venture is state-owned Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Holdings, set up in 2010 by the Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, an agency that aims to facilitate partnerships for financial innovation in the Qianhai free trade zone.

Qianhai Financial is also waiting approval of a 2015 application to form a securities firm with HSBC, again could become the first such firm with a majority stake held by a foreign entity.

Mutual fund focus

Rosita Lee, head of investment products and advisory business at Hang Seng Bank, earlier told International Adviser's sister publication Fund Selector Asia that the joint venture would focus on mutual funds that will initially invest in onshore China.

To offer products that invest in overseas markets, the partnership would have to apply for quotas through programs such as QDII, she added.

The bank is currently selling one index mutual fund for mainland investors, the Hang Seng China H-Share Index Fund, which is offered through the Mutual Recognition of Funds scheme (MRF).

So far, most foreign firms have entered China's onshore market by establishing joint ventures with domestic fund managers, such as ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management, CIFM Asset Management (JP Morgan and Shanghai International Trust), and HSBC Jintrust (HSBC and Shanxi Trust and Investment).

Some have set up the wholly-foreign owned enterprises (WFOEs) in the Shanghai or Shenzhen free trade zones, but the scope of business has been limited to private investments and institutional mandates.

Aberdeen, Fidelity and US hedge fund Bridgewater have recently set up investment management WFOEs, but the use of such WFOEs have not been clarified by the regulators. 

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