China's regulators have agreed to let the Hong Kong-based Bank of China International (BOCI) go ahead with preparatory work for setting up a joint venture securities firm in China. BOCI is the investment banking arm of the state-owned Bank of China. However, as a Hong Kong-listed firm it is seen on the mainland as an overseas firm. If the licence is finally issued, this will be the first foreign-invested securities firm in China. BOCI would hold a 49% stake in the proposed joint venture. The largest mainland partner would be Dongfang Asset Management Co, a Bank of China unit based on the mainland, with 21%. The remaining 30% will be shared among five other mainland companies.