ABN AMRO, Chang Sheng to partner

ABN AMRO Asset Management joins the race for ChinaƆs open-ended mutual fund business.

And then there were three: the number of the original 10 Chinese mutual fund companies that have yet to publicly announce a strategic partnership with a foreign fund manager. Such deals are becoming necessary in the lead-up to China’s entry to the World Trade Organization and creation of new mutual fund products.

Until now, these wallflowers also included Chang Sheng Fund Management. But over the next three weeks, ABN AMRO Asset Management intends to officially announce that the two have forged an alliance. Since the bank will be holding a press conference in June, however, officials are willing to confirm the tie-up, but remain unwilling to go into details.

But none of these Sino-foreign couplings have strong binds beyond informal relationships. All the foreign fund managers hope these agreements – in which local partners are offered technical expertise and systems in the mundane but crucial details of open-ended mutual funds, and in return provide promises of distribution – will gel into joint ventures as allowed under WTO rules.

Although many Chinese fund managers have declared themselves ‘engaged’ to a foreign suitor, they continue to flirt with other potential partners, so over time it can be assumed some of these alliances will flourish while others will end in acrimony. China is also licensing new batches of domestic fund management companies and some foreign entities have preferred tie-ups with Chinese securities companies or banks.

The remaining three fund management companies yet to make public a foreign alliance are Boshi, Jiashe and Dacheng, all based in Beijing.