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Goldman Sachs wins approval for wealth management deal with China’s ICBC

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Goldman Sachs Asset Management has won initial approval for a wealth management joint venture with ICBC, one of China’s largest banks, as Wall Street groups expand their presence in the country.

Goldman will hold a 51 per cent stake in the venture, while ICBC wealth management, a subsidiary of the bank, will own the rest.

Foreign asset managers are rushing to capitalise on China’s vast pool of savings, as the government liberalises its tightly controlled financial system.

BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, this month said it had received permission to start a wealth management joint venture with China Construction Bank and Singapore’s state fund Temasek.

Wealth management products in China are typically distributed through the domestic banking network, leading to partnerships between foreign asset managers and local banks. The industry is regulated by the China banking and insurance regulatory commission, or CBIRC.

“China’s wealth management industry has grown on the back of increased household wealth and continued financial market reform,” said Tuan Lam, head of the client business for Asia Pacific ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

“This joint venture with China’s pre-eminent financial institution will accelerate our objective of establishing a leadership position in one of the world’s largest, fastest-growing wealth management opportunities,” he added.

Goldman said that the partnership had preliminary approval from the CBIRC.

Its global investment research arm estimates that investable assets by Chinese households will exceed $70tn by 2030, more than half of which will be allocated to products such as securities, mutual funds and wealth management products.

Amundi, the French asset manager, became the first foreign company to launch a majority foreign-owned wealth management business last year when it partnered with Bank of China. Elsewhere, JPMorgan Asset Management last year unveiled its plans to buy out its mutual fund joint venture partner.

Government reforms in China have encouraged greater foreign involvement across financial services, including allowing foreign companies to own mutual fund businesses fully for the first time.

Goldman Sachs in December said it would seek full control of its securities joint venture, which dates back to 2004.