Schwab founder met with China officials about Shanghai office


By Jed Horowitz

NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Charles Schwab traveled to Chinain September to discuss opening an office of his eponymoussecurities firm in Shanghai.

"There's a massive opportunity there, they are veryunderserved," the 76-year-old founder of Charles Schwab Corp said in a meeting Monday with Reuters reporters andeditors.

Schwab, who founded his pioneering discount brokerage firmin 1971, said he met with the head of the China SecuritiesRegulatory Commission (CSRC) and with the head of itsintelligence service to learn more about the Shanghai Free TradeZone that it is being organized for foreign banks.

Schwab compared the status of the Chinese retail investor tothat of U.S. citizens in the 1950s who were largely ignorant ofthe market and ignored by big brokerage firms.

It will take 15 or 20 years before China truly develops amarket for retail investors, Schwab said, but he wants his firmto be on the ground floor.

"The next step is to open an office in the new free tradezone in Shanghai," he said. "The rules and regulations are notcompletely clear."

Schwab, which has closed several European ventures, put afoot into Asia when it opened an office in Hong Kong in 1997. Itremains open and is used by some mainland Chinese customers forinvesting in U.S. stocks.

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