Templeton taps Natixis for China WFOE chief

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Franklin Templeton is expanding in China and expects to launch an onshore fund.

Jin Mei, Franklin Templeton

The firm has appointed Jin Mei to head its IM WFOE (investment management wholly foreign-owned enterprise) in Shanghai.

Mei will be responsible for developing opportunities for business growth in mainland China, according to a statement from the firm. He will work closely with the director of portfolio management Jason Zhu, who was hired in December last year.

Mei joined Franklin Templeton on 1 March from Natixis Investment Managers where he was China chief representative. He has 14 years’ experience in the financial industry, including a decade spent with Bloomberg in New York and Beijing.

Franklin Templeton gained an advisory WFOE in March 2016, which was upgraded to an investment management license in December 2017.

“We are looking to continue to expand our team in Shanghai, especially on the investment side, and will not rule out adding further roles such as trading and client servicing,” David Chang, CEO and regional head for Greater China told FSA in an email.

“Subject to obtaining the applicable regulatory permissions, we are interested in exploring the possibility of launching private funds for our clients in the near future,” he added.

A WFOE is a foreign-owned limited liability company and is a common type of investment vehicle for doing business in mainland China. An IM WFOE is the prerequisite to launching an onshore private fund to domestic qualified (high-net-worth and institutional) investors.

About 50 foreign managers have a WFOE licence. Of those 50 firms, around 13 have obtained a private fund management licence and have launched 20 onshore funds (as of the end of October 2018).

Late last year, State Street Global Advisors became the latest firm to gain approval from China to set up an IM WFOE structure.

Franklin Templeton also has a representative office in Beijing, as well as joint-ventures Franklin Templeton Sealand Fund Management in Shanghai, and China Life Franklin Asset Management in Hong Kong.

“Our China strategy is gradually being executed following the opening of the capital markets in China and our own capabilities and timetable,” Chang said.

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