CKGSB Knowledge - China Business and Economy

Banking on Beijing

Mao Zedong is once said to have remarked: “Everything under heaven is in great disorder; the situation is excellent.” This famous quip could easily describe the state of play in China for global banking giant UBS.

Last year, headwinds from the China-United States trade war buffeted most foreign businesses, while large parts of the Chinese financial sector struggled to cope with the fallout from a major crackdown on risky lending practices. Yet, both these disruptions brought unexpected benefits for the Swiss bank, according to Eugene Qian, head of the group’s operations in China.

Beijing has reacted to US pressure by fast-tracking reforms to open up the financial market, enabling UBS to become the first foreign bank to receive approval to take a controlling stake in its China securities joint venture in December. Meanwhile, the clear-out of lenders in the shadow banking sector should make it easier for conventional banks to claw back market share.

In this interview, Qian explains how UBS plans to take advantage of these strategic opportunities, and how he expects the Chinese financial sector to change over the coming years.

Q. How did UBS first enter the Chinese market, and how has your business evolved since then?

A. Switzerland was the first

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