HONG KONG : Chinese asset managers are lining up for licenses to operate in Dubai, said Ian Johnston, chief executive of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), as warming ties between China and the Middle East continue to offer business opportunities.
“(Chinese) investment management and asset management firms have been coming to be licensed by us … That’s growing,” Johnston told Reuters on the sidelines of the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong.
The DFSA regulates the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which Johnson says has been luring global banks, asset and wealth managers, and hedge funds, and now is seeing rising interest from Chinese entities.
Johnston said previously it was mainly China’s big commercial banks operating in the DIFC, offering trade and project financing. Now Chinese asset managers are joining as well, he said, while Chinese investors are looking to diversify their assets amid continuing China-U.S. tensions.
China is the United Arab Emirates’ biggest trading partner, and last year the UAE, Saudi Arabia and four others were invited to join the BRICS block of emerging market economies.
A growing number of wealth managers and family offices based in Hong Kong and Singapore are also setting up offices in Dubai, as investors look for safe havens, neutral political stance and favourable policies.
Johnston said as well that Chinese and Dubai bourses had been in discussions for cooperation in exchange-traded fund (ETF) and index products.
Last year, a new ETF tracking Saudi equities made its trading debut in Hong Kong, becoming the first product of its kind in Asia.
The DFSA is also in close cooperation with the Hong Kong monetary and securities regulators, jointly working on promoting financial innovation and sustainable investments, Johnston said.