Allianz said on Wednesday that its Chinese life insurance business had received regulatory approval that will allow it to become the first wholly foreign-owned life insurer in China created from a joint venture.

Many foreign financial institutions are looking to expand their onshore presence in China, taking advantage of a relaxation of ownership restrictions for foreign players in the asset management, insurance and securities broking sectors.

A green light from the Shanghai bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission will mean Allianz China Life can become a 100% owned subsidiary of Allianz China Holding, after agreeing to buy 49% stake owned by CITIC Trust Co, its local partner in the venture.

“China is an important strategic market, and today’s approval puts us in a position to maximize our contribution to the development of China’s financial services landscape,” said Sergio Balbinot, board member of Allianz SE and chairman of Allianz China Holding.

Allianz’s life insurance business will continue to consolidate its position as a pioneer and vital player in the middle and high-end customer segment, Xu Chunjun, executive director and chief executive officer of Allianz China Life, said.

Allianz said in July that it had also received approval to take full ownership of its local Chinese asset management business.