Global fund manager will introduce investing know-how to a market that is increasingly open to foreign firms Alliance Capital Management, one of the world's largest fund management companies, plans to enter the mainland market by teaming up with Ping An Insurance (Group), according to global chairman and chief executive Lewis Sanders. This will mark the first tie-up between an international fund house and an insurance company in China, a move that will help introduce much needed investment know-how to the mainland. Hong Kong-listed Ping An, the second-largest insurer in China, earlier this month became the first to receive approval by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange to invest substantially overseas. The approval was primarily intended to boost investment returns for mainland insurers, which traditionally have been forced to park their assets in low-yield domestic bank deposits, bonds and mutual funds, leading to a potentially dangerous mismatch between assets and future liabilities. 'I do think the joint venture to be set up with Ping An Insurance will allow us to provide our asset management experience and knowledge to our partner,' Mr Sanders told the South China Morning Post. 'We chose Ping An as our joint-venture partner because it is a very fine company and it has integrity and capable people.' The partnership will not only help the United States' leading fund house enter China, it will also help Shenzhen-based Ping An fulfil its dream of becoming a full-service financial holding company as it now controls insurers, a bank and a trust and investment firm in addition to a securities brokerage. Mr Sanders said he could not disclose terms nor a timetable as regulatory approval for the joint venture had yet to be granted. According to World Trade Organisation terms, as China has been a member for more than three years, it must now further increase access to the country for foreign partners by allowing them to hold up to 49 per cent of a fund joint venture, up from 33 per cent. Alliance Capital, a New York-based fund house with US$539 billion under management as at the end of last year, is ultimately owned by French financial giant AXA Group. The firm is a new name in the mainland, although in Hong Kong, it has a 50:50 joint venture - New-Alliance Asset Management (Asia) - with the largest local property developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties. Mr Sanders said the joint venture with Ping An would not only provide investment services for the insurer but would also proffer fund investment services to high net-worth clients and the central government. 'We are interested in all opportunities. We have the experience and knowledge to manage high net-worth clients, mutual funds, pension funds and governments around the world, including China,' Mr Sanders said. He added that Alliance Capital was also applying to set up a research office in Shanghai. 'It will not be a sales office but a research centre with a number of officers producing reports to help us manage money everywhere else in the world,' he said. 'China has emerged as the single most important market worldwide, so much so that any figures and market development of particular sectors in China will have a significant impact on the rest of the world. 'We have to get the first-hand knowledge of the Chinese market to our fund managers around the world to ensure we can continue to be a successful fund management company globally.' Mr Sanders said the new research team would cover oil, motor, utility, telecommunications, consumer and manufacturing industries.