Sun, Dec 02, 2018 - Page 16 News List

China allows UBS control of a securities business

AFP, BEIJING

UBS AG has been authorized by China’s securities regulator to take a controlling stake in a local business, making the Swiss giant the first foreign bank allowed to do so under new rules.

Beijing in April relaxed the rules in the financial industry in a move to open up the economy.

“The China Securities Regulatory Commission [CSRC] recently approved UBS AG to increase the shareholding ratio of UBS Securities Co Ltd to 51 percent,” the regulator said in a statement late on Friday. “This is the first foreign-controlled securities company approved by the China Securities Regulatory Commission after the implementation of the Measures for the Administration of Foreign-invested Securities Companies.”

USB, which currently owns about 25 percent of shares in the USB Securities Co Ltd joint venture, said in a statement that it would acquire stakes from China Guodian Capital Holdings Ltd (國電資本控股) and COFCO Group (中糧國際).

Other financial firms like Wall Street titan JPMorgan Chase & Co and Japan’s Nomura Holdings Ltd are still awaiting approval.

Laws limiting foreign ownership of local financial firms have long stopped global banks from independently operating in China and limited their growth.

However, Beijing last year said it would liberalize shareholding limits in the financial services industry, soon after US President Donald Trump visited.

Officials in April moved to make good on the pledge, immediately allowing foreign investors to take 51 percent stakes in securities firms and fund managers, with pledges set out to eventually allow full control.

Earlier this week, two European insurance giants, Allianz SE and Axa SA, received approval to expand their footprint in China. Allianz has been allowed to start a company fully funded by foreign capital, while Axa is to take full control of a joint venture. Trade tensions have increased between China and the US, which accuses Beijing of using unfair practices to get an advantage for its own firms and destroying American jobs.

Trump has placed tariffs on more than US$250 billion in Chinese imports so far this year and China responded with its own tariffs on US$110 billion in US goods.

However, Trump has threatened to target the remaining US$267 billion of Chinese imports as well, hitting Apple iPhones and laptops produced in China.

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