BEIJING — Forty years on, financial opening-up, once considered a risk, has proven to be a risk well taken, and a boon for businesses in China and beyond.
As China strives to make new ground in pursuing reform and opening-up, a new push in the financial sector will give foreign investors more chances to share the country’s market dividends.
In the latest step, China approved UBS AG’s plan to gain a majority stake in its mainland securities joint venture, making UBS the first global financial institution to take advantage of the country’s new rules to further open up its financial market.
UBS AG will raise its stake in UBS Securities Co. to 51 percent from the current 24.99 percent.
Sergio P. Ermotti, UBS Group CEO, said this step underlines the company’s long-term commitment to the Chinese market and it will continue to pursue opportunities.
“The further opening-up of China’s financial sector represents great opportunities for our wealth management, investment bank and asset management businesses,” he said.
Eugene Qian, president of UBS Securities, said with a majority control, UBS can better realize the opportunities in China’s capital markets and make a greater contribution to the UBS Group.
In May, US financial giant J.P. Morgan also submitted an application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) seeking to set up a new, fully-integrated securities firm, in which it would hold a 51-percent stake and expect to raise its ownership to 100 percent over the next few years.
“The CSRC accepted our application on Oct 12 and provided first feedback opinions on Nov 12,” Mark Leung, CEO of J.P. Morgan China, told Xinhua via email on Dec 10.
This came after the country unveiled 11 financial opening-up measures, including allowing foreign firms to have 51-percent ownership of their brokerage ventures, up from the previous 49 percent, and disclosed a timetable.
China will also encourage foreign investors to enter its trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money brokerage and consumer finance sectors, a move to take effect before the end of this year.
Following the launch of the Shanghai- and Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock links, which make it easier for foreign investors to buy A-shares, a similar program between Shanghai and London is expected this month.
Seven of the 11 measures have been implemented, Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, wrote in a signed article last week.
After 40 years of reform and opening-up, China’s financial sector has become an important part of the international financial system and is ready to open up wider to the world, analysts said.
Further financial opening-up will not threaten domestic players, but rather create a catfish effect and enhance the sector’s international competitiveness, said Yao Yudong, chief economist of the Dacheng Fund.
While pushing financial opening-up, the country will not dial back its efforts in risk control. “The country will strike a balance among financial reform, development and stability,” Yi Gang said.
The central bank will develop the financial market, push forward financial reform and expand opening-up under the premise of maintaining financial system stability, ensuring continuous financial services and forestalling systemic financial risks, Yi said.