SHANGHAI May 6 The China venture of U.S. life
insurer Metlife Inc has become the first foreign-backed
insurance firm to receive regulatory approval to set up a branch
in Shanghai's free trade zone.
The approval was announced by Sino-US United Metlife
Insurance Co Ltd, jointly operated by state-owned Shanghai
Lianhe Investment Co and Metlife, on its official microblog on
The move comes nearly eight months after the free trade zone
was launched, receiving considerable attention from overseas
firms and hailed as potentially one of China's boldest reforms
in decades. However, that hype has cooled amid a lack of
specific policy details since the initial fanfare.
Foreign banks, such as Citigroup Inc < and HSBC
Holdings PLC, have set up branches in the free trade
zone but many foreign companies have been reluctant to follow
suit citing a lack of clarity over what they exactly will be
allowed to do in the zone.
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission has said insurance
firms will be allowed to enjoy looser restrictions on offshore
investment and yuan-dominated cross-border reinsurance
businesses compared with operations on the mainland, although no
details have been published so far.
Foreign insurers are only allowed to operate in China,
including the free trade zone, through joint ventures with local
(Reporting By Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kazunori Takada and