A bank staff member counts RMB and US dollar notes in Nantong, Jiangsu province, on Aug 28, 2019. (Photo: Sipa)
BlackRock Financial Management and Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers LLC became the first two foreign financial service providers to apply for mutual fund qualification in China as the limit for foreign ownership in mutual funds was completely eliminated on April 1.
The State Council announced in July last year that the restriction on foreign ownership of mutual funds would be removed from April l. On the first day when the policy took effect, the two US financial leaders - BlackRock and Neuberger Berman - made submissions to the China Securities Regulatory Commission to set up wholly owned mutual funds in China.
As the world's largest asset management group, BlackRock managed total assets valued at $7.43 trillion as of Dec 31, 2019, covering asset classes including equities, fixed-income securities, cash, alternatives and real estate.
In his annual letter to shareholders released on Tuesday, Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock, wrote that the group's focus on long-term opportunity and structural change is reflected in the way they have been approaching growing markets, such as China.
"I continue to firmly believe China will be one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock over the long term," he wrote.
Founded in 1939, the New York-headquartered Neuberger Berman managed $106.1 billion of equities, $160.4 billion in fixed income assets and $89.2 billion alternatives by Dec 31, 2019. The company set up an investment management company in Shanghai in June 2016. In March last year, it became one of the first foreign asset management companies to provide investment consulting in China.
Other industry big names such as Vanguard, Fidelity International, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have all expressed their willingness to apply for such mutual fund licenses in China.
According to the Shanghai Municipal Financial Regulatory Bureau, the world's top 10 asset management companies have all started operations in Shanghai. Among the 25 wholly owned foreign private equity firms registered at the Asset Management Association of China, 24 of them have set up offices in Shanghai.