China further opened its financial sector to foreign investors, with the banking and insurance regulator giving two more financial institutions the nod for market access.
The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission announced on Sunday it approved Munich-based Allianz SE's application to begin setting up Allianz (China) Insurance Holding Company Ltd, which will become the first foreign-funded insurance holding company in China.
The regulator also allowed Chiyu Banking Corp Ltd, a licensed bank in Hong Kong, to make preparations to set up a branch in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
Since the beginning of the year, the regulator has made a series of opening-up efforts, including granting preparatory approvals to Fubon Bank (China) Co Ltd's application to establish a branch in Chongqing, and allowing ICBC-AXA Life Assurance Co Ltd to establish an asset management company, and Korean Reinsurance Co Ltd to set up a branch in China.
"The CBIRC will further open up China's financial sector in a steady manner in addition to making continuous efforts to raise the level of risk prevention and control and to improve regulatory capabilities," the banking and insurance regulator said in a statement posted on its website on Sunday.
With the country further expanding access to its financial market, foreign financial institutions will enter a period of accelerated business growth in China, said Zhang Xingrong, managing director of the Institute of International Finance at Bank of China Ltd.
"By bringing greater competition to China's financial sector, foreign financial institutions will help improve the efficiency and quality of financial services and make them more accessible to Chinese customers, while simultaneously reducing service costs.
"The increased competition and cooperation among foreign and domestic financial institutions will boost the competitiveness of the whole sector and will also benefit domestic financial institutions with regard to their global expansion," he said.
China is widening foreign access to its financial sector in various aspects under established policies.
The banking and insurance regulator has removed the 20 percent ceiling on ownership of a Chinese commercial bank or an asset management company by a single foreign investor, and the 25 percent cap on total foreign ownership of such companies.
This month, the Chinese central bank announced it had approved a joint venture of American Express Co in China regarding its application to commence operational preparations for a card clearing institution in the country.