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Report: Citigroup to set up wholly owned securities business in China

Citigroup Inc. plans to set up a wholly owned securities business in China, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The bank initially would focus on brokerage and futures trading, while expanding its custodian services in China. According to the report, the final decision has not been made yet, but the New York-based bank plans to apply for a futures license, possibly in the first half of 2020.

Rival JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s unit JPMorgan Asset Management raised its stake to 51% in its Chinese joint venture in August.

"Citi continues to evaluate opportunities to further support its clients in China," the bank said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. A bank spokesman declined to give further details to the news outlet.

As part of the plan, Citigroup would focus on facilitating capital raises with local clients and helping them make acquisitions overseas through the bank's Hong Kong branch.

So far, the bank does not plan to offer onshore investment-banking services due to the high costs involved, the report said. Moreover, while the bank has a custody business for overseas entities, it would need a separate license for onshore investors.

The development comes as China has been opening up its financial sector to foreign investors.