Credit Suisse takes control of China securities joint venture

Alison Tudor-Ackroyd

Credit Suisse has taken control of its China securities joint venture, Credit Suisse Founder Securities (CSFS), becoming the latest foreign bank to take advantage as the country opens up its financial services sector.

The Swiss bank said on Monday that it had upped its shareholding in CSFS to 51 per cent from 33.3 per cent after the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) granted the bank the approval to become the majority shareholder in April.

Credit Suisse promised to continue to invest in China and named Janice Hu as chairwoman of CSFS to help drive the bank’s China onshore strategy and CSFS’s future business plans.

Hu is currently vice-chairwoman for China at Credit Suisse and a board member of CSFS. She has been with Credit Suisse for almost two decades.

Following intense lobbying from foreign banks, China said it would raise its cap on foreign ownership limits to 51 per cent in April 2018. The ruling allows foreign banks to compete more effectively onshore and to integrate their mainland business with their global operations.

The approvals followed the Office of Financial Stability and Development Committee and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange announcement last July that they would ease rules and further open up China’s financial sector a year earlier than planned.

Beijing has gradually been relaxing foreign ownership rules against the backdrop of a trade war that has raged between the United States and China for 18 months, as well as a slowing economy.

UBS was the first foreign bank to win China’s approval under the rules to take control of its securities joint venture in November 2018, while Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley got a green light in March this year.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley to take control of mainland joint ventures as China opens up financial sector

Established in 2008 and headquartered in Beijing, CSFS provides a range of capital markets services to clients in the domestic China market, including sponsoring and underwriting A shares, foreign investment shares and government and corporate bonds, as well as providing financial advisory services.

Since October 2016, it has also operated a securities brokerage business in Shenzhen’s Qianhai free zone and has continued to expand its trading and execution capabilities.

Credit Suisse started a correspondent banking relationship with the Bank of China in the 1950s. Over the years, Credit Suisse has built a China business in private banking, equities, and investment banking and capital markets.

Credit Suisse also has an asset management joint venture – ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management with total assets under management of nearly 1.3 trillion yuan (US$182 billion) as of the end of December.

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