The China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) has licensed China Re Asset Management (CRAMC) as the country's first insurance asset manager with a foreign shareholder, Swiss Re Asset Management Asia. CRAMC will begin operates in late February, focused on managing the capital assets of China Re as well as expanding to serve both life and non-life insurance companies in China.

According to the CIRC, assets in China's insurance industry grew to Rmb1.2 trillion ($143 billion) by the end of 2004.

"China's huge insurance asset management market has enormous potential," says Dai Fengju, chairman of CRAMC, "which CRAMC aims to develop by leveraging our strong local expertise and solid network, to create the best investment returns for our business, while ensuring our position as the leading asset management company for China's insurance industry."

Based in Beijing, CRAMC is founded by six companies: China Reinsurance Group (50.1%), China P&C Re (10%), China Life Re (10%), China Continent P&C (10%), Swiss Re Asset Management Asia Ltd (10%) and Fuxi Investment (9.9%). The company was granted permission to apply for a license in late September 2004, under the new "Provisional Regulations on the Administration of Insurance Asset Management Companies", which came into effect on 1 June 2004.

China Re was established, based on the former China Reinsurance Company, on 18 Aug 2003, and approved by the State Council and licensed by the CIRC. Based in Beijing, China Re has a registered capital of Rbm3.9 billion ($471million). Last year it was ranked Asia's 119th largest institutional investor by AsianInvestor magazine with assets of $2.5 billion.

For many years, China Reinsurance Company has been the national reinsurance company and played an instrumental role in China's reinsurance market. To further facilitate the reform of the country's reinsurance market, the company underwent capital reform and founded China Re.

China Re is dedicated to building its core reinsurance business while at the same time starting to diversify. The group initiated and introduced domestic and foreign strategic investors as shareholders in setting up the holding company for China Property & Casualty Reinsurance, China Life Reinsurance and China Continent P&C. The group also

wholly owns China Insurance News and Huatai Insurance Agency & Consultant Service, and is a shareholder of the Insurance Industrial College.

Guided by the requirements set for China's financial holding companies, China Re's strategic development objective is to establish and perfect a progressive enterprise system upon which to build itself into a diversified, modern financial holding group with strong international competitiveness.

Swiss Re, which has had a presence in Asia since 1913, opened a Beijing branch in 2003.