Swiss banking giant UBS is reportedly in discussions with China Life Insurance Group to set up an asset management joint venture (JV) in China.
The move forms part of the UBS’ strategy to strengthen its foothold in China where it already has brokerage, investment banking and wealth management businesses, Reuters reported citing people with knowledge of the development.
If the talks materialise, UBS will have the controlling stake in the JV, which will become the first foreign-controlled asset management JV in China involving an insurer.
According to one of the sources, the Swiss bank has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish the JV and the formal launch is subject to approval from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC).
They also added that the latest move by UBS comes after its failed talks to strike a similar deal with a wealth management arm of a state-owned Chinese bank.
One of the sources was quoted as saying: “UBS has been keen to take an absolute-controlling status in a China unit, but its competitors are quick to snap up the best local partners.”
The sources were not named due to the confidentiality of the deliberations.
UBS and China Life Insurance did not comment on the news.
China has been pushing its efforts to liberalise its financial sector in a bid to encourage more foreign players into the country.
The country lifted its limits on foreign ownership of joint venture partnerships in April. Since then, several foreign financial institutions have approached CBIRC to increase their stakes to full control.
This September, a report by Reuters said that the asset management arm of BNP Paribas was in talks with the Agricultural Bank of China to form a wealth management joint venture.