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July 5, 2021

Manulife in discussions for full control of China mutual fund JV

Canadian insurer Manulife Financial is reportedly in negotiations to acquire the 51% stake it does not already own in its mutual fund joint venture (JV) in China.

The stake worth at least $272m is being sold by its partner Teda Investment Holding, reported Bloomberg.

The report did not reveal whether other buyers are eyeing Teda’s stake.

At present, Manulife has a 49% holding in the JV dubbed Manulife Teda Fund Management.

Hence purchasing Teda’s stake would offer it complete control of the JV.

No official confirmation about the development came from Teda or Manulife.

At the end of December last year, the JV had assets of CNY910m ($140m).

As per a filing, it reported a profit of CNY40m for the year.

The move makes Manulife the latest foreign player to capitalise on China’s financial sector liberalisation.

In June this year, BlackRock secured the regulatory nod to start operating a wholly-owned onshore mutual fund business in China, becoming the first foreign asset manager in the country approved to do so.

This May, the firm reportedly received a licence in China for a majority-owned wealth management venture with a China Construction Bank (CCB) unit and Singapore state investor Temasek.

JPMorgan is also among the firms, vying for a share of China’s financial market.

Last month, it was reported that the bank has applied for a 100% ownership in its China securities venture.

Earlier this year, the bank reportedly picked a 10% stake in the wealth management unit of China Merchants Bank.

Also in May 2021, Goldman Sachs received an initial regulatory nod for a China wealth management JV with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

In the same month, Morgan Stanley increased its stake in securities and fund management ventures in China as part of its strategy towards full control.

In an exception to the trend, Vanguard abandoned its plan to secure a mutual funds licence in China, citing a crowded market.

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