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Long time coming: Western banks to gain majority securities JV stakes in China

The moment has finally arrived – bankers have grown old waiting for it, but on Friday they learned they will soon be permitted to own majority stakes in securities companies in China. Good news for every international investment bank – except one: HSBC.


Bankers have been waiting for this for so long many of them had pretty much given up.

Ever since Morgan Stanley bought in to the launch of CICC in 1995, and certainly since Goldman Sachs gained approval for its pioneering Goldman Sachs Gao Hua joint venture (JV) structure in 2004, western banks have waited and hoped for a pathway to control of their domestic securities operations.

The ceiling lifted from 33% to 49% in 2012, but that made little difference: banks want control of their ventures and, without it, have been dwarfed in domestic securities business by local houses.

But now, progress.

On Friday, vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao said at a Beijing briefing that foreign firms will be allowed to own up to 51% in securities ventures and life insurance companies, and that those caps will be steadily removed in future.

He also said that foreign ownership limits on domestic banks and asset management companies would be removed.

He added that details were being drafted by regulators and would be released soon.

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