Shanghai points to successes in further opening

A batch of foreign companies have benefited from Shanghai's endeavors in further opening its financial industry after China called for more efforts to boost opening-up.

Several foreign companies have benefited from Shanghai’s endeavors in further opening its financial industry after China called for more efforts to boost opening-up, Shanghai Financial Service Office said yesterday.

Willis Insurance Brokers Co, for instance, obtained approval from the Shanghai insurance regulator for expanding its business scope right after the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission allowed on April 27 more functions of its lower-ranked bureaus, making Willis the first insurance brokerage in China to get such an approval from a city bureau.

On May 2, ICBC-AXA Life Co was given the consent to establish an asset-management company — China’s first after furthering opening up its insurance industry.

Shanghai-based Bright Food Group signed an investment agreement on April 28 with a French bank to jointly set up a consumer finance company. After its official establishment, it will become China’s first consumer finance firm involving investors from developed countries.

Allianz has decided to set up a wholly invested insurance firm in Shanghai, and is making related preparations thanks to the relaxed share caps for a foreign financial company.

“Shanghai has been a pioneer in China’s reforms of the financial industry,” said the Shanghai Financial Service Office. “We will continue to innovate in further opening up banking, securities and insurance industries to make Shanghai a global financial center.”

According to the office, Shanghai will make greater efforts, such as supporting foreign banks to set up both branches and sub-branches in the city, and encouraging domestic commercial banks to establish asset-management companies in Shanghai with foreign investors, with no cap for shares held by their partners.

Also, Shanghai will allow foreign securities, fund and futures firms to conduct businesses of brokerage and consultancy in the city, and expand the business scope for insurers while allowing foreign-controlled life insurance companies.

Shanghai will also help foreign innovative firms to launch depository receipts, expand the function of foreign exchange accounts, and launch the Shanghai-London stock connect within this year, according to the financial service office.

The city will also open the market for clearance of bank cards by allowing the entrance of non-banking payment companies into it, and relax the rules for foreign financial companies in doing credit rating.

“Shanghai will continue to optimize the business environment for the financial industry, and let China’s newly announced policies in reform and opening-up benefit foreign companies as soon as possible,” the Shanghai Financial Service Office said.

A call for extra efforts to reform and open up across various markets was made during the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April. China has rolled out a set of measures to open its financial sector wider to the world, following plans disclosed by authorities at the Boao Forum.

As part of the country’s broader opening-up push, China will encourage foreign investors to enter its trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money brokerage and consumer finance sectors, a move that will take effect before the end of this year.

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