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BlackRock closes Shanghai unit as it shifts focus to mutual fund business

SHANGHAI, March 31 (Reuters) - Global asset manager BlackRock has folded a private fund unit in Shanghai as it focuses on launching its mutual fund business in the world’s second-biggest economy.

BlackRock last week voluntarily cancelled the business registration of its wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) unit in Shanghai, according to the website of the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC).

Last August, BlackRock became the first global asset manager to win Chinese regulatory approval to set up a mutual fund unit in the country, and was given six months to establish the business.

BlackRock said it is still preparing the launch of the mutual fund business.

China fully opened its $3.3 trillion mutual fund industry to foreign managers last April. Global players including BlackRock, Fidelity International, Neuberger Berman and Schroders have applied to set up mutual fund units in China.

But not all are confident of succeeding in a market crowded with 147 players and 8,202 mutual fund products.

Earlier this month, Vanguard Group dropped a plan to obtain a mutual funds licence in China, citing a “crowded” market.

$1 = 6.5577 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Andrew Galbraith and Samuel Shen, editing by Louise Heavens

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