StanChart CEO Winters meets China FX regulator, launches investment banking unit

HONG KONG, March 26 (Reuters) – Standard Chartered (STAN.L), CEO Bill Winters met with the head of China’s foreign exchange regulator on Monday, a month after the bank suspended new investments by its clients in the country into offshore products via a quota-based channel.

Winters exchanged views with Zhu Hexin, the head of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), on China’s financial opening up and the establishment of a treasury centre, among other topics, according to a statement from the regulator issued late on Monday.

Last month, the London-headquartered bank said in a client note that it would not take new subscriptions into offshore-domiciled funds sold via China’s qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) programme, governed by SAFE.

StanChart cited “commercial reasons” for the suspension.

Analysts, however, say the suspension was probably because StanChart’s QDII quota capacity may have been reached given a surge in demand by Chinese investors to invest offshore via the QDII programme.

It was unclear if Winters and Zhu discussed quota issuance.

Separately, StanChart said in a statement that its fully-owned investment banking unit, Standard Chartered Securities China, commenced operations from Friday last week, the latest global financial firm to take advantage of the opening up of China’s securities brokerage sector.

“We have confidence in China’s continued financial sector opening and economic transition,” Winters said.

“The inauguration of SCSCL will enhance Standard Chartered’s ability to serve clients domestically and internationally, deepening and diversifying our capabilities in China”.

StanChart started hiring staff in China since 2023 as it geared up to launch the investment banking unit targeting niche bond deals, chairman of the unit said last year.

Amid weaker growth and heightened geopolitical tensions, China pledged on Monday to treat foreign companies the same way as domestic peers in a bid to attract more foreign investment, cooperation and expertise.

Executives of large global companies, including those in the financial sectors such as StanChart’s Winters and HSBC’s chief, Noel Quinn, attended this year’s China Development Forum which opened on Saturday.

Blackstone’s (BX.N), Stephen Schwarzman held a meeting on Monday with the chief secretary of Communist Party of China, Cai Qi, a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows.

Cai said implementing agreements struck during China and U.S. leaders 2023 meeting in Los Angeles is a “top priority” and support is needed from all forces.

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