China has issued a flurry of approvals for foreign financial companies looking to expand into the country as Beijing seeks to boost investor confidence after abruptly ending years of pandemic restrictions.
The approvals for global banks and asset managers to set up or start operations of fully owned entities have come since China's 20th Party Congress in October, when President Xi Jinping secured an unprecedented third term in office. Such approvals were rare for the majority of 2022 and signal Beijing's desire to woo foreign business.
The majority of the approvals were in the asset management sector, a $4 trillion market in China.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management last Thursday won approval to convert an existing mutual fund joint venture into a fully owned entity. Canadian manager Manulife, which adopted a similar route, gained full control of its China unit in November.
Asset managers Neuberger Berman and Fidelity International also received permission to start raising money from retail investors in November and December. Schroders of the U.K. won preliminary approval to establish a fully owned mutual fund company in China this month.
The approvals are part of Beijing's financial market opening. China scrapped an ownership cap of 51% for foreign shareholders in financial companies in 2020. BlackRock was the first foreign company to operate a wholly owned mutual fund business in China since the restriction was removed.