Global banking and insurance provider HSBC is believed to be in talks with Chinese insurance company Ping An about setting up an insurance joint venture on the Chinese mainland.

According to Hong Kong and Shanghai news providers, HSBC has confirmed it is in negotiations with the Shenzhen-based insurer. However, Ping An, which is the second largest life insurance provider in China, has so far declined to comment on the reported developments.

If a deal can be struck, HSBC is hoping Ping An’s position as an already established Chinese mainland life insurance provider will enable the joint venture to gain a swift approval from Chinese authorities before the end of the first quarter of 2006.

The proposed life insurance alliance complements the HSBC’s plan to set up a securities venture in the mainland, which outgoing chairman John Bond revealed last week.

HSBC holds a 19.9% stake in Ping An.