JapanÆs SBI Holdings, the holding company for Softbank and its financial services units, says a new fund it has created with Tsinghua Holdings has been approved by ChinaÆs regulators. The fund will be equally owned between the two parties, which marks the second of such sino-foreign joint investments in China. With an initial $30 million seed money, it will focus on start-up firms and pre-IPO companies run by Tsinghua students, faculty, alumni and other affiliates.

Tsinghua Holdings is a wholly-owned investment arm of Tsinghua University in Beijing. The University regularly churns out 20,000 students every year û and a prolific collection of powerful alumni, including Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the PeopleÆs Bank of China, Hu Jintao, ChinaÆs current president, and former premiers Huang Ju and Zhu Rongji. John Thornton, a former president of Goldman Sachs is among the universityÆs star-studded faculty roll.

Tsinghua HoldingsÆ investments total RMB3.1 billion ($395 million) currently. Among the 98 companies in its portfolio, nine have gone public. These businesses have spun out of the universityÆs laboratories and classrooms, where the university enjoys good reputation in energy, life, environmental and information science and technology. Graduates often top salary rankings in ChinaÆs journals.

The State Department of Commerce was rumoured to have a hand on the partnership between Tsinghua and SBI. The new JV will be run by Kazushi Miyazaki, head of China, and Shao Yangyang, senior manager. Its office will be based in Tsinghua Science Park in Beijing, another of the holdingsÆ investments, where its new fund will be neighbour with Microsoft, Sun Microsystem, Smartdot and numerous Chinese technology firms.

This will not be the first investment that SBI has made in China. Previously, it brokered a partnership with SingpaoreÆs sovereign wealth fund Temasek in its Chinese investments. The group is active in asset management, venture capital, investment banking and real estate investment. It has 12 partnerships and 13 affiliates on top of its 48 subsidiaries. Sumitomo Trust & Banking, the State Bank of India and Axa are some of its allies in its recent overseas ambition.

Softbank Investment Corporation was founded in 1999 to undertake venture capital and incubation business and is now listed on the Osaka and Tokyo stock exchanges. Its asset management business was acquired from Aozora Bank in 2001. Among its subsidiaries is Morningstar K.K. Japan, and in 2005 it founded a China-focused investment fund with an unnamed partner from Singapore.