China's Ant Financial, Vanguard form Shanghai-based venture: government records

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese fintech company Ant Financial Services has formed a joint venture with a Shanghai unit of U.S.-based asset management firm The Vanguard Group, government records showed.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate, is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Shu Zhang

The venture marks a high-profile partnership of Jack Ma-controlled Ant Financial with an overseas asset management company.

The online national registry for businesses listed an entity under the Vanguard name, with registered capital of 20 million yuan ($2.88 million) and Huang Hao as its legal representative.

Huang is one of Ant Financial’s top leaders.

While details are scarce, the equity joint venture will likely entail Ant Financial offering some of Vanguard’s services to Chinese consumers, said Peter Alexander, managing director, Z-Ben Advisors.

“Even though no one knows specifically what they’re going to do, I think it stands to reason that Vanguard will bring their expertise in running passive portfolios and Ant will bring their expertise in placement and distribution,” he added.

Spokespersons for Ant Financial and Vanguard Group declined to comment on the joint venture.

Vanguard had launched a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) in China in May 2017; and has about $5.2 trillion in assets as of Jan. 31, 2019.

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, currently operates Yu’ebao - the world’s largest money market fund.

The company, which holds 1.13 trillion yuan ($168.2 billion) in net assets as of 2018-end, was launched as a third-party online payment provider.

It has since branched out into consumer finance, and offers loans for small businesses, consumer credit, and other services.

In September 2018, Fidelilty Guaranty & Life Holdings Inc said it has formed a “research partnership” with Ant Financial.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Samuel Shen in Shanghai, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips