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China allows insurers to invest in PE, real estate

SHANGHAI: China will allow insurers to broaden investment channels into private equity and real estate, a move that could unleash as much as US$100 billion (RM311.28 billion) worth of fresh funding into unlisted firms and the property sector.

Chinese insurers are allowed to invest up to 5% of their assets in private equity and 10% in real estate, according to rules published on the website of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CSRC) over the weekend.

However, the rules cap insurers' investment in private equity funds to 4% of total assets, and caps their investment in property-related financial products to 3% of assets.

In addition, insurers are banned from investing in venture capital funds and residential properties, and must not directly participate in real estate development, according to the rules.

China is broadening insurers' investment options to help improve their returns and aims to channel more of the country's savings into the private sector to help sustain economic growth.

The move is seen boosting the investment incomes of Chinese insurance companies such as China Life and Ping An in the long run.

Total assets at Chinese insurers stood at 4.5 trillion yuan (RM2.06 trillion) at the end of the second quarter, meaning insurers may potentially invest more than 450 billion yuan into real estate and 220 billion yuan into private equity, the official Shanghai Securities News reported. — Reuters
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