FIDELITY Investments has secured exclusive product distribution rights through the 28-branch network of Kincheng Banking Corp, in the first deal of its kind involving a mainland-linked bank. Kincheng, a member of the Bank of China group, is expected to bring the products of other fund managers on to its distribution panel to be sold to retail bank customers. Already in Hongkong, Hang Seng Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank and Citibank have begun distributing investment fund products of unit trust and mutual companies, including Jardine Fleming, Wardley Investment Services, Baring Fund Management and Schroders Asia. Fidelity retail market director Richard Wastcoat said: ''We are delighted to be associated with the first China bank to offer mutual funds in Hongkong.'' Recently the fund management house launched 24-hour free telephone fund information services to unit holders in Hongkong, China and Singapore. ''Banks, because of the high credibility they have with the mass market of investors, will play a very important role in expanding the distribution and awareness of funds in Hongkong,'' said Mr Wastcoat. Kincheng is one of the 13 members in the Bank of China group and is expected to be followed by the others in offering retail investment fund opportunities to their clients. Kincheng deputy general manager Shum Kai-wah said: ''We believe that mutual funds will meet our customer needs and provide more diversified investment services to our customers.'' A factor in the bank's decision was the strong brand name of Fidelity and its strong marketing support services along with service support to customers. Fidelity is based in the United States and has US$200 billion under management with three million clients worldwide. It is the largest independent fund management group in the world. The fund management industry is seeing an increase in funds under management in the territory. Total sales in the first quarter of this year amounted to US$514.4 million, the second highest since 1989, when the Hongkong Investment Fund Association, formerly the Hongkong Unit Trust Association, first started compiling figures.