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Securities Industry to Open Up
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China's commitment to further open up its securities industry may benefit both international companies and the country's capital market, analysts and top international managers said yesterday.


Vice-Premier Wu Yi and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson agreed to a series of opening up measures during the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue, held in Washington.


China has agreed to resume allowing overseas market players to set up joint venture securities firms. It will also allow international firms to expand from investment banking to brokerage, principal investment and asset management businesses later this year.


"Opening up the securities industry will prompt more major players to get involved, besides UBS and Goldman Sachs," Cheng Weiqing, an analyst with CITIC securities, said.


Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, the No 2 and No 3 American securities firms by market value, may be among the primary beneficiaries of the new policy.


"We welcome the further opening of China's financial sector," said Hans Schuettler, CEO of Morgan Stanley Asia.


"This reflects the government's commitment to develop a more efficient and stronger domestic capital market. We also believe having foreign participants in the domestic market will help raise standards and build a world-class securities industry for the country," he said.


China had banned international companies from investing in local securities firms since September, out of concern that it would threaten local brokerages as they recover from a four-year slump. Before the ban, UBS and Goldman Sachs Group Inc were the only foreign firms with brokerages in the country.


A high-ranking official from the UBS Asia office said yesterday that the agreement means brokerages can form securities firms in China.


"It is a good move for China's market. But we need more details," the unnamed official said.


Analysts said that due to lack of details, it is hard to tell how far China will open up the industry.


"I think China may first allow more foreign joint-venture firms to expand their business scope. In the near term, international securities firms may not be allowed to do such businesses alone on the mainland," said She Minhua, a financial analyst with CITIC China Securities.


He said that the opening up should be a step-by-step process because the entry of international securities firms may have a heavy impact on local securities firms.


"The impact will be much bigger than the opening of the commercial bank sector, as China's securities firms have long been small and sluggish," he said.


But CITIC's Cheng disagreed, saying that it is possible China may speed up the measures.


(China Daily May 25, 2007)


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