For foreign investors with an eye on the Chinese insurance market, obtaining an insurance intermediary licence is a good idea. However, compared with insurance brokerage licences, insurance agency licences are difficult for foreign investors to obtain. Therefore, foreign investors that wish to acquire control over a Chinese insurer should consider either setting up a new foreign-invested insurer or acquiring an existing foreign-invested insurer.
The China Insurance Regulatory Committee recently promulgated the new Measures for the Administration of Equity in Insurance Companies, which state that if the shareholding proportion of an insurer's foreign shareholders accounts for more than 25% of its registered capital, the relevant provisions of the measures must be applied by reference. This express inclusion of foreign-invested insurers represents a substantial shift away from current practice.
The regulations concerning investment limits and the required qualifications for shareholders that want to invest in Chinese insurers continue to be a focal point for potential investors. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission recently published the Administrative Measures for Equities of Insurance Companies (Draft for Comments), which make fundamental changes to the existing regulatory framework.