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Banking ownership limits help deepen cross-Strait ties

TAIPEI, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan's financial regulator announced on Monday it will raise the limit on mainland banks' ownership in the island's financial institutions as cross-Strait economic and trade ties deepen.

A single mainland bank will be able to buy a 10 percent stake in a Taiwanese listed bank or financial holding company. The stake ceiling for unlisted banks or financial holding companies will be raised to 15 percent, financial regulators from both sides of the Taiwan Strait said at a joint briefing.

Mainland lenders will be allowed to own as much as 20 percent of a banking unit of a Taiwanese financial holding company.

Previously, a mainland bank could only buy no more than a stake of 5 percent in a Taiwanese financial institution.

Under agreements, mainland commercial banks will be able to invest in Taiwan's equity markets under the qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) program. A memorandum on the issue, which was signed Monday, will take effect within 60 days, said Hsien-Nung Kuei, an official with Taiwan's financial regulatory authority.

Kuei noted the agreements are mutually beneficial and will help Taiwanese banks expand business in the mainland market. "We will materialize the agreements as soon as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, the mainland will speed up the approval process for Taiwanese banks seeking to set up sub-branches in the same mainland city of their existing branches, said Fan Wenzhong, an official of China Banking Regulatory Commission.

Fan said the commission has not received any application information from mainland banks seeking to invest in the island's financial institutions.

There are now 10 Taiwanese banks establishing branches in the mainland, while the mainland-based China Construction Bank joined Bank of China and Bank of Communications in setting up a branch in Taiwan.