New rules for securities JVs by foreign firms in China

WASHINGTON • China’s securities regulator issued guidelines on the country’s previously announced move to allow foreign firms to own a majority stake in local securities joint ventures (JVs).

The China Securities Regulatory Commission published the rules on its website on Saturday. The watchdog had been seeking public comment on the plan since March.

China surprised the financial industry in November when it announced that it would raise the foreign ownership cap to 51% on the ventures, which provide underwriting and trading services. The move is a key part of President Xi Jin-ping’s (picture) pledge to open China’s financial sector.

Wall Street firms have been reluctant to invest in the ventures without being allowed ownership, and a number have moved to exit their holdings in recent years.

China’s announcement of the changes in 2017 coincided with a visit by US President Donald Trump to the country. Since then, the two countries have escalated their trade disputes, proposing tariffs on billions of dollars of goods.

Last week, the Trump administration said it would send Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top economic advisors to China in hopes of negotiating an end to the tensions, which have rattled financial markets and raised concerns that the world is barreling toward an all-out trade war.

Xi this month reiterated his pledge to open sectors of China’s economy, from banking to auto manufacturing, in a speech to the Boao Forum for Asia. — Bloomberg