May 14, 2018 05:40 PM

Overseas Investors Begin to Move In as China Opens Financial Market

Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li and French retail giant Auchan are among the latest overseas investors to take advantage of greater access to China’s domestic financial market, according to a list (link in Chinese) published by Shanghai’s financial authorities.

The Shanghai Financial Service Office’s publication of the list of new overseas investors comes after three major foreign securities firms, including JPMorgan and UBS Group, have filed applications to set up or control onshore brokerages since March, a milestone in the country’s ongoing campaign to relax rules over foreign ownership of securities firms and lower barriers to access for foreign financial institutions as a whole.

One of the names on the list was Oney Bank, the consumer finance and payment arm of France’s second-largest retail group, Auchan. On April 28, the lender signed an agreement with Shanghai-based state-owned enterprise Bright Food Group to set up a consumer finance joint venture, according to Saturday’s Shanghai Financial Service Office statement.

Shanghai Bright Oney Consumer Finance Co. will be the first consumer finance joint venture set up between a developed country and China, the statement said. Until this point, Czech consumer finance company Home Credit Group has been the only company to establish a wholly foreign-owned entity onshore since 2007.

Also listed was Pacific Century Group, an Asia-based private investment group chaired by Richard Li, a son of recently retired billionaire Li Ka-shing.

FWD Life Insurance Co. (Bermuda), a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Century’s insurance arm, FWD Group, applied to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) for permission to establish an onshore entity on May 5, the statement said.

Shanghai’s insurance regulator has approved Willis Insurance Brokers Co.’s application to expand its business scope after the CBIRC allowed foreign insurer’s local branches to take on more functions on April 27. The Berlin-based Allianz AG, Europe’s largest insurer by premiums, also said on May 9 that it will set up a wholly invested insurance company in Shanghai, the statement said.

Contact reporter Leng Cheng (

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