China accepts France's BNP Paribas' application to set up brokerage amid uncertainty in investment deal with EU
France's BNP Paribas applies to set up brokerage in China despite CAI uncertainty
Published: Apr 27, 2021 10:27 PM
BNP Paribas branch in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

BNP Paribas branch in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Tuesday accepted France-based BNP Paribas' application for the establishment of a securities firm in China, the latest sign of the appeal of China's financial opening for European investors, even as some anti-China forces are casting doubts over an investment deal between China and the EU.

"BNP Paribas continues to explore all of its options for growth in the China market, where we have had a long-standing presence and developed a fully fledged corporate and institutional banking business, as well as a successful asset management joint venture," the bank said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, shortly after news of its brokerage application emerged.

"As part of our future growth, we are exploring ways to enhance our local capabilities and delivery to clients in the Chinese mainland," read the statement.

With nearly 500 staff based in China, the French lender provides banking, financing and advisory services through its corporate, institutional banking and international financial services, according to information posted on its website. 

The Tuesday application came on the back of foreign banks' pursuit of a deeper footprint in China's securities market, which now grants foreign investors full ownership in domestic brokerages.

DBS, Nomura and JPMorgan are among the foreign banks that have won the CSRC's approval for majority stakes in China securities businesses. 

Foreign ownership limits on futures firms were scrapped on January 1, 2020, while the removal of foreign shareholding controls was scheduled for April 1, 2020 in the case of fund management firms, and December 1, 2020 for securities firms.

The application that sets BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, on track for a comeback to China's equity market also reinforces the reality that the country remains a magnet for European businesses, despite doubts by some EU politicians over the China-EU comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI), analysts said.

As a huge market with tremendous potential, China's unwavering move to open up its economy makes its financial market particularly appealing to European financial institutions, Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The European Parliament canceled a meeting scheduled for late March to discuss the CAI with China, a move that was interpreted by some media outlets as a protest against China's tit-for-tat measures countering EU sanctions over Xinjiang-related affairs.

Dong said that the trend for European financial institutions' investment plans in the Chinese market won't be affected by lingering hurdles for the CAI.

In November 2003, BNP Paribas set up a local joint venture with Changjiang Securities. The French bank announced in January 2007 its decision to transfer its 33-percent stake in the securities joint venture to Changjiang Securities, as the two sides held different views on the development of the Chinese JV.