Manulife Financial Corporation is on the verge of taking full control of its Chinese asset management joint venture.
Regulators accepted an ownership change application as the Canadian firm pledged to expand both its Asian and asset management units.
Canada’s largest life insurer is seeking to bolster its presence in China’s $3.8 trillion funds market, which grew 27% in 2021 and is forecast by consultancy McKinsey to more than double by 2025.
China’s securities regulator accepted an application from Manulife’s asset management arm to increase its stake in the joint venture to 100% from the current 49%. Manulife shares closed 0.8% lower in Toronto but rose 0.7% in Hong Kong.
Manulife Investment Management acquired the stake in Manulife Teda Fund Management in China in 2010 from ABN AMRO bank.
It teamed up with state-owned Tianjin TEDA International Holding, which owns the remaining 51% equity but is looking to sell. The venture managed about 60 billion yuan ($8.96 billion) in retail fund assets as of March 31.
Foreign companies are jockeying for position as China opens up the financial services sector, from investment banking to insurance, to global competition.
Since ownership caps for foreign companies in fund management JVs were scrapped in 2019, a growing number of foreign asset managers, including BlackRock and Fidelity, have set up operations in China.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell