For its one-year-old Chinese mutual fund venture, ABN AMRO has set its sights on tripling its assets by the end of next year, an executive said Monday.

Just one month after it got the okay to put $75 million into Chinese stock and bonds, the Netherlands-based company could soon jump into the No. 2 spot in China behind Allianz. Tripling its assets would bring its total to $1.3 billion.

Currently, AMRO has two funds in China. Other fund companies with interests in China, like ABN AMRO’s fellow-Dutch company ING, plan to expand in the country, as well. ING plans on doubling the size of its funds this year to $2.46 billion.

But ABN AMRO, with plans to open a new balanced fund by the end of 2004 and start breaking even by the middle of 2005 in what was once a paltry Chinese market, thinks it can lead the charge. Since pioneers like Allianz dipped into China last year, about 12 other firms have followed suit, and there is now more than 300 billion yuan (more than $36 billion) in assets under management across all firms.

"We have seen lots of competition in the market, but we’re optimistic about the development of the China industry," Frances Chang, chairman of ABN AMRO Xiangcai Fund Management, told Reuters.

More fund companies should enter the Chinese market soon, considering that China plans to ease regulatory restrictions next year to enable foreign companies to own up to 49% of a venture, as compared to the 33% cap currently in place. Recently, some domestic companies – namely China Merchants Bank and Commercial Bank of China – have joined the fray.

As it has with other ventures, ABN AMRO looks to rely on its expertise in foreign markets to excel in China.

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