Natixis fund unit eyeing China presence via acquisition: APAC CEO

HONG KONG (Reuters) – French asset manager Natixis Global Asset Management plans to set up a presence in China, preferably through an acquisition, as part of its strategy to double its Asia Pacific assets by 2020, a top executive said.

Natixis’ plans for the world’s second-largest economy come against the backdrop of a regulator-driven clean up of the fund management business and plans to ease foreign ownership curbs on their local fund management joint ventures. Natixis is a unit of French bank Natixis SA (CNAT.PA).

“Considering Natixis is a global asset manager we have to be in China,” Fabrice Chemouny, the fund manager’s Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer, said at the Reuters Global 2018 Investment Outlook Summit in Hong Kong.

“It could be (through) an acquisition,” he said. “This market is an onshore market.”

He declined to give details as talks were under way.

Natixis Global aims to double its funds under management to $100 billion in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years, Chemouny said last year.

On Thursday, he said the company was on track to achieve that target.

China is expected by asset management research firm Cerulli Associates to account for 49 percent of Asia’s total funds under management by 2020.

In November last year, China unveiled plans to raise foreign ownership limits in financial firms, including in asset management firms, aimed at widening access for overseas investors to a multi-trillion dollar financial services market.

Earlier this year, Beijing also approved new rules to close loopholes that have allowed regulatory arbitrage and increased leverage at the country’s $15 trillion asset management sector.

The approval came amid a widening crackdown on risk in China’s financial system as authorities seek to rein in a sector that has rapidly grown in complexity, driven by shadow banking products and off-balance-sheet lending.

Natixis Global, whose Asia presence includes Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Australia, is also looking to set up onshore operations in Thailand and Malaysia in the near future, Chemouny said.

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