UBS in landmark Chinese financial services majority holding JV bid

China’s president Xi Jinping’s promise of greater financial services freedoms in insurance and asset management has begun with UBS Group AG submitting an application to become the first global bank to take advantage of Beijing’s latest commitment to open its financial markets to foreign firms.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a statement that it has received the application from the Zurich-based bank. UBS said in a separate statement it aims to raise the stake in its China venture to 51%, up from the current 24.99%.

Xi renewed his pledge last month to open China’s financial markets and set a June deadline for allowing foreign firms to be a majority stakeholder the first time allowing up to 51% ownership, up from the current 49%.

The Swiss bank said in its statement that the move presents “great opportunities” for UBS’s investment banking, wealth and asset management operations in China.

At least three foreign firms are expected to increase their stakes before the June deadline. Financial firms in China raked in a combined $50bn of revenue last year, official data highlighted.

Separately, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has approved plans by ICBC-AXA Life Insurance to set up an asset management unit, making it the first such venture to be approved after President Xi Jinping vowed to accelerate opening of the nation’s insurance industry last month.

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