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Schroders gets nod to set up China fund unit as Beijing speeds up approvals

Logo of investment management company Schroders is seen in Zurich

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Schroders has obtained Chinese regulatory approval to set up a wholly-owned mutual fund unit in China, as Beijing accelerates opening up its giant financial sector to foreigners.

China abruptly dismantled its strict, three-year zero-COVID policy in early December, and the government has apparently stepped up efforts to woo foreign companies and investors to aid an economic recovery.

Last month, U.S. asset manager Neuberger Berman celebrated the opening of its China retail fund business, while Fidelity International was granted a mutual fund licence in the country. Authorities have also recently allowed Canada's Manulife Financial Corp to take full control of its Chinese mutual fund venture.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) gave the green light to Schroders late on Friday, allowing the British asset manager to expand its footprint in China, where Schroders already owns a mutual fund venture, as well as a wealth management venture.

Setting up a wholly-owned retail fund business in China is testament to Schroder's long-term commitment to the country - a key component of the group's global strategy, the company said in a statement.

Obtaining the go-ahead from the CSRC is a crucial step that strengthens Schroder's confidence to expand business and investment in China, Global Head of Distribution Lieven Debruyne said in the statement.

China scrapped foreign ownership caps in its $3.7 trillion mutual fund industry in 2019, and BlackRock become the first foreign asset manager to open a fully-owned retail fund business in the country.

Other players seeking such a licence include VanEck and AllianceBernstein.

(This story has been refiled to correct Chinese to China in paragraph four)

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Potter)