ING Investment Management and China Merchants Securities have announced that they have received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to establish a joint venture fund management company in China.

The proposed name of the joint venture is China Merchants Fund Management Company. Based in Shenzhen, ING says that operations are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2003. The new company will have a registered capital of RMB100 million.

China Merchant Securities will own 40% of the company, ING will have a 30% holding, China Power Finance Company, China Huaneng Finance and Cosco Finance will each hold 10%.

Chris Ryan, regional director for North Asia at ING Investment Management, says the joint venture fund management company is aiming to launch its first open-ended umbrella fund in China in the first quarter of 2003. There will be a range of funds on offer, with exposure to equities and bonds, or a combination of both, catering to different risk profiles. The joint venture company expects the first umbrella fund could exceed market expectations and raise more than three billion yuan from investors.

The positions of chairman and deputy chairman in the joint venture company will be split between ING and China Merchants Securities. The chief executive officer will come from China Merchants Securities. A preparatory team of 30 people working on the implementation of the joint venture's business plan includes a general manager, Cheng Baoliang, and an executive general manager, Zhan Long. By the time it is fully operational in the first quarter, the joint venture is expected to have a staff of 50.

The joint venture licence will allow the company to operate and offer funds nation-wide in China.