Santander has received regulatory approval from the Chinese government to operate as an independent car financing company in China.

The bank will operate through its Fortune Auto Finance joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Company (JAC), of which both companies own a 50% stake.

Fortune Auto Finance will have initial capital of 500m RMB (£49.84m), and loans will not be restricted to JAC products.

Santander announced the joint venture in 2011, and the news means it now has access to the world’s largest automobile market, as well as the 14 countries it already operates in.

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