UBS looks to raise stake to 67% in mainland China joint venture

HONG KONG, March 12 (Reuters) - UBS Group is moving to increase ownership in its Chinese securities joint venture to 67%, as two local partners put their stakes up for sale, an exchange filing shows.

Guangdong Provincial Communication Group and China Energy Investment Corp, which currently owns 14.01% and 1.99% of the joint venture, will auction their entire holdings, filings on the China Beijing Equity Exchanges showed.

The exchange did not name the potential bidders, but UBS said the auctions will result in UBS holding 67% of the JV if the deal is done.

“China is a key market for UBS. The further opening up of China’s financial sector represents great opportunities for all of our China businesses, including wealth and asset management, and investment bank,” UBS said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

“We are committed to the China market and will continue to invest strategically. Our further stake interest in UBS Securities demonstrates such commitment.”

UBS was the first bank to move to majority control of 51% in November 2018 after foreign banks were allowed to take larger stakes in their joint ventures.

Majority or full ownership could make it easier for foreign banks to expand their operations in the multi-trillion-dollar Chinese financial sector.

Goldman Sachs has applied for 100% ownership of its operations and JPMorgan owns 71% of its operations.

Morgan Stanley has been touted as the buyer of a 39% stake that its joint venture partner Shanghai Chinafortune Co will sell in Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities that would take the U.S. bank’s ownership to 90%. (Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; editing by Jason Neely)