ICBC-Axa set up mainland AM firm

Added 8th July 2016

Two more insurer-backed asset management companies have been approved in China, making a total of 26 firms.

ICBC-Axa set up mainland AM firm

Among the two new firms, the parent company of the ICBC-Axa Asset Management is ICBC-Axa Life, a joint-venture between Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Axa and China Minmetals, according to a report in Caixin.

The parent company of the other firm, BoComm Asset Management, is BoComm Life Insurance, which is owned by Bank of Communications and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The first insurer-backed asset manager was PICC AM, which was set up in 2003. They can run money from external institutional clients.

Among them, 11 such asset managers have set up offices in Hong Kong, according to the 2015 report by Insurance Asset Management Association of China. Pingan of China Asset Management (Hong Kong), for instance, has launched four ETFs and one renminbi bond fund in Hong Kong, as stated in its website.

However, only a few of the 26 approved insurance firm-backed asset managers have mutual fund businesses and only one, Taikang Asset Management, was granted a licence last April to operate a mutual fund business, according to Caixin.

Regulators relaxed the rules in 2003 by enabling insurers to tap into mutual fund business.

The first insurer-backed fund house, China Life AMP Asset Management, is a joint-venture between Australia's AMP Capital and China Life Asset Management set up shortly after the relaxation.

Other firms have set up a mainland mutual fund business either by starting fund subsidiaries or acquiring third-party fund houses.

One such acquistion was done by Minsheng Life Insurance, which bought Zheshang Fund last year.

Sunshine Insurance Group is another. In February 2015, it partnered with Wang Dexiao, a veteran in securities and insurance business to set up Hongde Fund Management. Sunshine Insurance holds a minority stake.

A number of insurer-backed asset management companies are also looking to set up a mutual fund opeartions, such as PICC Asset Management, Taiping Asset Management, Caixin said.

More firms are likely to step up launching products for external clients to expand their source of revenue, the report said, quoting industry players.

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