Standard Chartered has submitted an application for a brokerage licence with the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

The Asia-focussed British bank filed the application through its Hong Kong unit, Reuters reported citing a report published in Xinhua News Agency.

The decision to set up a securities firm in China is part of the bank’s strategy to further grow its onshore business by acquiring new licences.

In an email to Reuters, the Hong Kong division of Standard Chartered said it is “looking to further develop onshore business through acquiring new licences.”

The move follows China’s decision to do away with foreign ownership caps on securities firms and mutual funds for foreign investors. The decision was part of an interim trade deal signed between China and US in January.

Last month, Standard Chartered unveiled plans to combine several of its businesses to streamline operations and capitalise on competitive advantages.

The restructure includes the merger of Retail Banking, Private Banking, and Wealth Management.

The market turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic dampened the performance of Standard Chartered’s private banking unit in H1 2020.

The unit’s statutory profit in the first six months of 2020 stood at $53m, compared with $99m in the prior year.

Multiple financial companies, including Japanese firms, intend to boost their presence in China after Beijing opened the sector for foreign players.

Citi became the first US bank to secure fund custody licence in China. The licence will allow the bank to hold securities on behalf of mutual funds and private funds in the country.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan has plans to increase its holding in its securities joint venture (JV) in China to 71%. The American lender now emerged as the potential buyer of a 20% stake in the JV.

Furthermore, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) granted approval for DBS Group to set up a joint venture securities company.