PERTH (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX) said on Sunday it had approval from Chinese authorities to set up a sub-branch in the new Shanghai free-trade zone, following several other major international lenders into the pilot project.
ANZ, the most Asia-focused of Australia's four largest lenders, will offer a range of banking products to companies in the free-trade zone, in both yuan and foreign currencies.
The bank plans to open the sub-branch in 2014. The free-trade zone, which covers an area of nearly 29 sq km on the eastern outskirts of Shanghai, was launched in late September.
"We look forward to contributing to its success by supporting cross border trade and investment flows, as well as promoting the development of RMB (renminbi) financial markets," Charles Li, Chief Executive of ANZ China, said in a statement.
Australia's third-largest bank by market value follows Deutsche Bank (DBK.DE), Citibank (NYS:C), DBS (D05.SI), Hang Seng Bank <0011.HK>, HSBC (HSBA.L) and Bank of East Asia <0023.HK> in receiving approvals to start operations in the pilot free trade zone.
China's State Council said it would open up its largely sheltered services sector to foreign competition in the zone and use it as a testing ground for reforms, including a convertible yuan and liberalized interest rates.
ANZ has stood apart from its Australian rivals by seeking to position itself as a pan-Asian player. It has been in China since 1986 and was locally incorporated in 2010. It has five branches and three sub-branches across five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Hangzhou.
(Reporting by Morag MacKinnon; Editing by John Mair)