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China's giant money market fund relaxes investment restrictions

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By Reuters
China's giant money market fund relaxes investment restrictions
FILE PHOTO: An employee stands next to the logo of Ant Financial Services Group, Alibaba's financial affiliate, at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Shu Zhang   -   Copyright  Shu Zhang(Reuters)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The world’s biggest money market mutual fund, overseen by the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Group, has relaxed some restrictions on individual investments to stanch a rise in redemptions.

Tianhong Yu’e Bao scrapped personal investment quota requirements and a daily subscription cap effective April 10, Tianhong Asset Management Co, the fund’s manager, said in a statement late Tuesday.

The asset manager said the latest move was meant to “better meet investors’ wealth management demand”. The earlier restrictions were introduced to keep the Tianhong Yu’e Bao money market fund “in prudent operation in the long run”, the statement said.

Under the previous rules, individuals were allowed to invest up to a maximum account value of 100,000 yuan (£11,410) and daily investments were capped at 20,000 yuan.

The elimination of quota requirements and daily caps represent the first relaxation of rules for individual investors following a slew of tightening moves over the past two years.

Faced with rising regulatory pressure to shrink its size amid worries over potential systemic risks, Tianhong started to take measures to control the pace of growth of its money market fund in 2017, cutting individual account limits several times.

Market analysts said risk appetite has greatly improved since the start of this year with investors preferring stocks and bonds to money market funds, while expectations of easier monetary policy have pushed yields on money market products lower. These changes have led to a rise in redemptions and a drop in the size of money market mutual funds.

Launched in 2013, the Tianhong-managed Yu’e Bao fund is the world’s largest money market fund. It held 1.13 trillion yuan in net assets at the end of 2018, according to its annual report, down from 1.58 trillion yuan a year earlier. In addition to the Tianhong fund, the Yu’e Bao platform offers 13 money market funds from outside fund managers.

Ant Financial Group owns a 51 percent stake in Tianhong Asset Management Co.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith, Additional reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)