Ping An GroupÆs chief investment officer John Pearce says Ping An has no intention of gaining control of Value Partners.

ôValue Partners will run as an independent fund management business here. We only own less than 10%. ItÆs still very much controlled by its existing shareholders,ö he says.

However, Pearce says Value Partners will have a preferred distribution advantage once the groupÆs international QDII status is approved. ôThey will be part of our global platform. And we would like to be able to distribute Value Partners in China, so we are negotiating a deal. We see a long term relationship with Value Partners. They will certainly be a preferred manager on that global platform.ö

Currently, Ping An has an approved QDII quota for Hong Kong equities investment. It can invest up to 5% of its current total assets, which is at about RMB400 billion. Pearce says, ôWe havenÆt fully allocated, but we have certainly increased allocations to Hong Kong equities in the past couple of months.ö

Pearce says his team is happy with the current valuation provided by Hong Kong stocks. While most analysts cry over-valuation, Pearce says he is comfortable with more allocations, with particular focus on large caps, financial and property stocks. He is also optimistic about the H-shares outlook in 2008.

He is positive the role of the city has not diminished from recent rallies, ôHong Kong will be the place to manage the global exposure û Chinese investors who want offshore exposure to offshore investors who want Chinese exposure. Hong Kong will really be the hub to manage that two-way business.ö

Pearce's team in Hong Kong is currently run by Sam Lau, previously a fund manager of HSBC Greater China Fund and HSBC Asian Growth Fund. The team also includes Chi Lo, who is head of research, while Utaya Bhattacharyya is a director of equities.