Citi's China Inv-Banking JV Debuts

Zacks

In an effort to explore the thriving economy and a booming capital market in China, Citigroup Inc. (C) commenced an investment banking joint venture (:JV) with Shanghai-based Orient Securities Co.

The JV, Citi Orient Securities Co., will engage in investment banking activities including equity and debt securities underwriting in mainland China. This partnership was announced in June last year and got the nod from the China Securities Regulatory Commission in early January.

The JV has a registered capital of 800 million yuan ($126 million). Citi holds a 33.3% stake in the JV, while Orient Securities has a 66.7% stake. This is the maximum permissible holding for a foreign entity according to Chinese law. Subject to a relaxation of this upward ceiling in China and regulatory approvals from the competent authorities, Citi will likely increase its stake in this JV.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, underwriting pacts of nearly 50 Class A-share initial public offerings have already been secured by the JV. Also, it would provide advisory services to merger and acquisition transactions in certain sectors such as automobile, energy and entertainment.

To tap opportunities in China, U.S. and U.K., banks have already forayed and made JVs in this territory. This includes some of the biggest banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), UBS AG (UBS) and Deutsche Bank AG (DB) -- who have set up similar JVs with securities firms in China.

Our Take

The JV in China is a strategic fit for Citi as the company is aiming at augmenting its business in international markets. The company has an encouraging overseas presence and is making every effort to expand and tap opportunities in the emerging markets.

Going forward, we believe that such strategic partnerships will enhance Citi’s global network and boost its revenue base by leveraging on fast-growing markets, thereby increasing its market share internationally.

Citi currently retains its Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

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