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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – JPMorgan and Standard Chartered won Chinese regulatory approval on Thursday to expand operations in China, as Beijing encourages expansion by foreign companies after lifting its restrictive COVID policies.

China is speeding up the process of granting permissions to foreign institutions in a move to boost confidence among overseas investors as part of efforts to revive its economy battered by the stringent COVID measures, which ended last month.

JPMorgan’s asset management arm will be allowed to take full ownership of China International Fund Management Co. (CIFM), in which it holds a 49% stake, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said.

The approval came more than two years after the U.S. bank had applied to buy out CIFM in 2020.

“Symbolically it’s very important, given both the size of the deal, and also the fact that China is meant to be one of JPMorgan’s primary growth engines moving forward,” said Peter Alexander, managing director of fund consultancy Z-Ben Advisors, which estimates the deal to be worth around $1 billion.

JPMorgan had no immediate comment.

British bank Standard Chartered won an approval to set up a new securities brokerage unit in China also on Thursday, the regulator said.

Chinese regulators and government officials were preoccupied with the zero-COVID policy in 2022, and preparation for October’s 20th Communist Party Congress, but approvals granted to foreign institutions have recently picked up pace, Alexander said.

The CSRC gave a green light to Schroders late on Friday, allowing the British asset manager to expand its footprint in China by setting up a mutual fund unit.

Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp in November received regulatory approval to take full control of its Chinese mutual fund venture.

U.S. asset manager Neuberger Berman in the same month won approval to set up a new fund unit in China.

“China is certainly going to be bit of a long slog,” Alexander said, referring to China’s lengthy approval process for foreign companies. “But that does not mean that the opportunity itself is not ever present,” he said.

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(Reporting by Shanghai and Beijing newsroom; editing by Jan Harvey, Jason Neely and Jane Merriman)