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France said to press China for more financial market access
[PARIS] French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will press Chinese authorities to allow banks such as BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA better access to the local securities markets during an official visit to the nation, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Mr Le Maire, who visits Beijing and Shanghai this week, will discuss ways to give French banks a bigger role in mainland China in businesses such as initial listings and equities trading, the people said, declining to be identified as the talks are private.
The minister, who arrived in the Chinese capital on Thursday and will be accompanied by bank officials, will meet with vice-premier Ma Kai and Lui He, a member of the Communist Party's political bureau.
China earlier this month unveiled a set of financial reforms during a trip by US President Donald Trump to Beijing, while Mr Le Maire's trip comes ahead of a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron next month.
The new rules will remove foreign ownership caps on banks and allow overseas companies to take majority stakes in local securities ventures, fund managers and insurers.
While China will scrap ownership limits for securities companies three years after the new rules are effective, regulators are still working out the details.
Both SocGen and BNP have wholly-owned Chinese subsidiaries. BNP Paribas, which also owns a 19 per cent stake in Bank of Nanjing, wants to "accelerate development in China as the market opens," it said in its March presentation of 2020 targets.
SocGen in September said it remained committed to China as it finalised the sale of its minority stake in asset manager Fortune SG to Warburg Pincus.
SocGen, in an emailed release, said it is committed to the Chinese market, where its wants to position itself as a bridge between China and the rest of the world.
BNP Paribas declined to comment. French finance ministry officials confirmed that Chinese financial market rules would be on the agenda of the trip while declining to comment further.