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China eases investment restrictions for insurers


SHANGHAI (Reuters)—China's insurance regulator will allow insurers to invest in a wider range of corporate bonds and relax limits on equity and real estate investment, granting them greater freedom to seek higher returns and play a stronger role in the financial system.

Insurers can now buy unsecured corporate bonds via an underwriters' book-building process, according to a notice issued on the website of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission late Monday. Previously, insurers were restricted to purchasing unsecured bonds issued via open auction.

The notice also indicated a relaxation of rules governing equity and real estate investment by insurers, allowing them to draw on funds from different subsidiaries for such investments.

The rules clarify the approval process for the issuance of new insurance products based on investments such as infrastructure bonds and real estate.

China's financial regulators have been working in recent years to diversify the country's financial system away from reliance on bank lending to de-concentrate risk and improve capital allocation by developing a broader base of institutional investors.