Dutch fund firm Robeco starts China unit to tap demand for investing abroad

November 1, 2016 5:37 AM EDT

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Dutch money manager Robeco launched a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai on Tuesday, seeking to tap rising Chinese demand for investing their assets overseas.

The move comes at a time when China is restricting capital outflows to ease depreciation pressure on the yuan.

"There's very strong demand from China's high-net-worth individuals to allocate assets overseas," said Michael Lu, managing director of Robeco's China subsidiary.

"Despite some temporary restrictions at the moment under the capital account, we believe in the future, China will continue its opening policy, and realize its goal of full yuan convertibility."

A growing number of foreign financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Aberdeen Asset Management and U.S. hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, have recently set up stand-alone money-management firms as Beijing further deregulates the fund industry.

Previously, foreign asset managers had to operate in China through joint ventures.

Rotterdam-based Robeco will seek new business under China's Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership (QDLP) scheme - an outbound investment channel, but licensing for the program appears to have been suspended at the moment, Lu said.

To stem rapid capital outflows, China has made it more difficult for Chinese individuals and companies to move assets overseas over the past year.

The measures include curbs on investment quotas, a deepening crackdown on underground banks, tighter scrutiny over outbound acquisitions and restrictions on Chinese purchases of Hong Kong insurance policies.

Robeco, which managed $154 billion of assets as at end-September, also announced on Tuesday the launch of its China research team in Shanghai. The money manager said it plans to launch a fund that will raise offshore yuan to invest in China's stock market, but declined to give details.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and John Ruwitch; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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