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Ping An plans joint venture with UOB
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Ping An Securities, the securities arm of Ping An (Group) Co, is planning a joint venture fund management company with Singapore-based UOB Asset Management, a company source said yesterday.


"We are working on the plan with UOB Asset Management. In fact, we've been preparing for a fund management company for quite a long time. But we haven't submitted the application to the industry regulator yet," the source said, refusing to elaborate.


As a unit of Singapore's United Overseas Bank, UOB Asset Management is the largest asset management company in Singapore.


"This move by Ping An proves its commitment to be a financial holding company," said Luo Yi, an analyst with China Merchants Securities. "Ping An's existing marketing channels will be the new company's strong back-up. Meanwhile, the fund management company could also sell Ping An's insurance policies."


However, Luo said he didn't think the fund management business would be a big profit contributor to Ping An Group's overall business though it will help Ping An Securities to expand into the downstream business.


"It's more like a move to strengthen Ping An's framework to be a financial holding company," Luo added.


Ping An, China's second largest insurer, has been seeking to enter the fund management business after it expanded into securities, banking and trust. Earlier last year, Ping An failed to buy a 35 percent stake in Shenzhen-based Jutian Fund Management Co when Morgan Stanley offered a much higher price for the stake.


In November, Ping An acquired a 9 percent stake in Hong Kong-based asset management firm Value Partners, becoming its strategic investor.


Besides Ping An, the country's largest life insurer China Life is also actively preparing a fund management company.


Yang Chao, chairman of China Life, said in Nanjing in November that the company has applied to the regulator to set up a fund management company.


He also said China Life is in close contact with several foreign investors that will be the fund management company's stakeholder, but he declined to reveal their names.


"China Life has been fully prepared for being a financial holding company. Once the policy go-ahead is obtained, we will make big moves," Yang said.


(China Daily January 4, 2008)


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