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China's Ping An, UOB to Set Up Fund Joint Venture

Ping An Insurance, China's second largest life insurer, has won approval to set up a fund management joint venture with United Overseas Bank, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said on Thursday.

The joint venture, to be controlled by Ping An, will be based in Shenzhen near Hong Kong, and UOB, Singapore's second-biggest bank by assets, will have the right to appoint some key positions in the new firm, the sources told Reuters.

Ping An, also based in Shenzhen, has begun to hire staff for many areas including marketing, auditing and risk management, for the new firm, part of its preparations to launch the fund venture, said the sources, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

"The regulator has given Ping An the nod to prepare for launching the firm. Once completed, it will have to seek a final approval from the regulator again to officially announce the launch of the firm," said one of the sources.

"But they should have no problem to get final approval as long as they can complete the preparatory work successfully."

The fund venture between Ping An and UOB will target domestic investors and it has no relation to the partnership between Ping An and Fortis, the sources said.

In March, Ping An agreed to pay 2.15 billion euros for half of Fortis' investment management business, which Ping An said would help it to expand into global asset management markets.

Ping An also holds a roughly 5 percent stake in the Dutch-Belgian financial services firm.

Officials at Ping An declined to comment, while a representative for UOB in Singapore was not immediately available for comment.