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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Ranks China Among Biggest Opportunities

Lulu Yilun Chen

(Bloomberg) -- BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink said China remains one of the firm’s top regions for growth despite uncertainties brought on by trade tensions with the U.S. and the virus outbreak.

“We are here to work with China,” Fink said via video conference at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai on Thursday. “We firmly believe China will be one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock.”

The world’s biggest money manager is expanding in China to tap one of the fastest-growing markets. China’s trillion dollar wealth industry opened further in April, luring investment from companies including BlackRock, Vanguard Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. While the further liberalization of the sector in China has been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis, firms are nonetheless laying out plans for a market in which retail funds alone could reach $3.4 trillion in three years, says Deloitte LLP.

As part of that expansion, BlackRock is hiring 14 people in Shanghai, looking for everything from compliance officers to investment managers, according to its website. The company has just 35 people in China, compared with 500 in each of Singapore and Hong Kong.

Even with current trade tensions, China will continue to attract global investments, especially in Shanghai as more investors seek exposure to onshore assets, Fink said.

“Despite the noise in the markets now, I am optimistic that the U.S.-China relationship can continue to develop for the whole world in a positive manner,” Fink said.

New Licenses

BlackRock, with $6.5 trillion in assets, is attempting to crack the China market in multiple ways. Led in the region by Geraldine Buckingham in Hong Kong, the company is applying for licenses to set up wholly-owned mutual fund firms in China, people familiar have said. That’s in addition to holding a 16.5% stake in a joint venture with Bank of China Ltd.

The New York-based firm is also in talks to set up a joint venture with Singapore fund Temasek Holdings Pte and China Construction Bank Corp.’s wealth management subsidiary to tap the lenders’ distribution channels, according to a person familiar.

Fink added that he sees increasing signs that China and the rest of the world are slowly recovering from virus-induced slowdowns.

“Encouraging signs are emerging,” Fink said. “As dramatic as this has been, I do believe the global economy will stabilize and recover steadily.”

(Updates with Shanghai job postings in fourth paragraph)

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