J.P. Morgan Chase has applied to take full control of its China securities venture and is ramping up hiring as the U.S. bank plows ahead with an expansion in the world's second-largest economy.
The bank has entered commercial agreements with existing partners in its securities and asset management ventures, said Mark Leung, the bank's chief executive officer for China, in an interview. It's increasing its staffing about 16% to 17% a year, he said.
"Fingers crossed, our target is to get it done as soon as possible." Mr. Leung said. "We already have one of the most complete, probably the most complete foreign setup" in China, he said.
J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs Group, which has also started the process of getting clearance from regulators for full ownership in its securities venture, are competing to become the first Wall Street bank with full control after China relaxed ownership rules last year. Firms are adding staff and office space and expanding in everything from futures and brokerages to asset management with billions in potential profits to chase in the world's most populous nation.
Goldman has been on an unprecedented hiring spree in mainland China and Hong Kong in the first four months of the year and was in the process of hiring 320 staff, including 70 to focus on investment banking coverage, and is planning to add another 100 employees through the rest of 2021.
"Getting people is really the speed hurdle for how quickly we roll, and of course the other is getting the license," Mr. Leung said. "So the key is how we find that right people that has the J.P. Morgan DNA and a local culture."
J.P. Morgan in November already boosted its stake in the securities venture to 71%, and last year obtained approval to take full ownership of a futures venture. The bank in January relocated veteran dealmaker Houston Huang to become chief executive officer and head of investment banking for its securities operations in mainland China.