Alibaba finance arm, Juneyao airline both get private bank approval

By Reuters

Sep 29, 2014 01:51 AM EDT

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's finance arm has been given government approval to set up a private bank, China's banking regulator said on Monday, the latest step in the e-commerce company's push into the financial services sector.

Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group, an Alibaba affiliate that contains the company's Alipay payment processing and financial services arm, will hold 30 percent of the bank, the regulator said. Other partners will hold the remainder.

Shanghai JuneYao Group Co Ltd [SHJYG.UL], the parent of Juneyao Airlines, also received regulatory approval to set up its own bank, and will own a 30 percent stake, according to the regulator.

The approvals herald China's latest batch of new private banks, part of a pilot program launched earlier this year and the first tentative step by the country to open its closely guarded banking sector to private investors.

Alibaba was not available for immediate comment.

Juneyao declined to provide immediate comment.

The other shareholders in the Zhejiang Ant bank will be: Shanghai Fosun Industrial Technology, a subsidiary of Fosun International Ltd, with a 25 percent stake; a subsidiary of Wanxiang Group will hold 18 percent; and Ningbo Jinrun Asset Management will own 16 percent. Other stakeholders will be audited by the Zhejiang banking regulator.

Stakeholders in Juneyao's Shanghai-based bank will include clothing firm Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion & Accessories Co Ltd with 15 percent and others with stakes of 10 percent or less, audited by the Shanghai banking regulator.

The banks should take 6 months to set up and will also have to apply to start operations, the regulator said.

Though these companies were among the first batch of private firms to submit applications for banking licenses, they are the second batch to get approval.

In July, China allowed the establishment of three private banks, including one invested in by Alibaba rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

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