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Monday, March 7, 2005

Fido Builds up Operations Abroad

by: Theresa Sim

Fidelity Investments is ramping up operations in Germany, South Korea and India, but is shunning China, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Fidelity obtained a license to run a money management shop in Korea in early December. The fund firm is already off to a quick start; Fidelity launched the first of a series of 10 mutual funds last week, reports the FT.

Why is Korea appealing to the U.S. fund giant? According to the FT, Korean regulators recently approved of new reform that allows companies to voluntarily offer defined contribution-style plans.

"We believe that Korea could easily become the largest asset management market in Asia outside of Japan," Evan Hale, head of Fidelity’s South Korean business, told the FT.

The reforms, which go into effect in December, may not take hold because of lack of incentive, Hale remarked to the FT. Currently, the regulation limits the amount of a company's plan assets to 30 percent equity holdings.

Fidelity has also opened a fully-owned operation in India, as well as set up an onshore unit in Germany, reports the FT.

Ashu Suyash, head of Fidelity’s Indian business, estimates that only two percent of Indian savings make use of mutual funds.

As for China, Richard Miles, of Fidelity's United Kingdom business, told the FT: "We do have a representative office in Shanghai, but at this point we have no plan to seek a [full] Chinese licence."  

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