Global Economy

Some international banks are finally seeing their China investments pay off

In the brokerage and investment banking business, J.P. Morgan gained Beijing’s approval in March to establish a majority-owned securities joint venture in the country. Japan-based Nomura received regulatory approval on the same day.

Last week, Credit Suisse also announced it intends to increase its stake with joint-venture partner Founder Securities to a majority one, pending regulatory approval.

“The China question still depends most on where the global managers are themselves, not where the market is,” Z-Ben’s Grinderslev said. “Regulators are moving quickly to disprove this.”

“It won’t take many more years for those managers still in the process of asking ‘what’ they want to do in the market to fall out of the rankings entirely,” she said, “and it remains uncertain whether they will be able to claw their way back — or whether that will even be an option.”

Critics say foreign access to China’s financial markets is still coming along too slowly. In practice, they added, efforts to give overseas players equal treatment with local ones face many challenges.

In credit card services, Mastercard and Visa have still not gained domestic access while China’s UnionPay is growing overseas.

Some of the regulatory approvals have also come at a time when important negotiations in the U.S.-China trade dispute take place. But any change is welcome news for many foreign companies that have decided to put up with Beijing’s regulatory challenges for a chance at growth.

“We have a deeply-held conviction in the opportunities presented by this dynamic market and continue to invest in our business as one of our top strategic priorities,” Raymond Yin, head of Asia Pacific and head of China onshore for UBS Asset Management, said in a statement. “Our goal is to be the leading asset manager in China for onshore and international clients, combining our local expertise with our global capabilities to help them navigate this important market.”

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