Goldman moves to take majority control of China joint venture

By Jennifer Hughes and Alun John
The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company's space on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Jennifer Hughes and Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs has applied for majority control of its Chinese joint venture, the bank confirmed on Wednesday, the latest international bank to do so ahead of Chinese plans to eventually allow foreigners full control.

The bank submitted an application with the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Monday to take its stake in Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities to 51% - the maximum permitted - from its current 33% holding.

A spokesman for the bank confirmed the filing, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

Western banks' lack of control over the JVs, along with their limited contribution to revenues, have long been a source of frustration for foreign banks in China.

Management control would allow foreign banks to offer more services through their JVs and potentially leverage their global networks to win China market share, bankers have said.

Unlike most of the other joint ventures, Goldman Sachs already has day-to-day operational control of its joint venture, which offers investment banking services such as equities and bond underwriting and deal advice.

Despite that managerial control, Goldman has long made it clear it would eventually seek to take a majority stake too.

Under the new agreement submitted to regulators, the securities sales, trading and research operations that currently sit in the business of its partner, Beijing Gao Hua Securities, will be folded into the joint venture.

Beijing Gao Hua is controlled by veteran Chinese banker Fang Fenglei.

Goldman's move to go to 51% follows similar actions by many of its rivals following a relaxation of the rules in late 2017.

UBS was the first to get approval under the new rules as well as the stake it needed for control. Morgan Stanley is waiting for its stake purchase to be approved.

JPMorgan and Nomura have approval and are working to start up joint ventures from scratch.

Credit Suisse is seeking approval to inject fresh capital into its JV in a move that would take it to 51%.

HSBC launched its own majority-controlled joint venture in late 2017 under different rules that allowed Hong Kong-based companies special access to the mainland.

(Reporting by Jennifer Hughes and Alun John; Additional reporting by Julie Zhu; editing by Darren Schuettler)