Australian fund manager QIC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the asset management arm of Chinese insurer Ping An.

The arrangement is likely to see colloboration between the two organisations on real estate and infrastructure investments.

Damien Frawley, QIC chief executive, told IPE Real Estate: “We’ve been talking to them for some time about opportunities in infrastructure, real estate and private equity in Australia.”

Frawley said QIC has been working with Ping An Asset Management Company (PAAMC) discreetly over the past four years, enabling the partners to understand each other’s capabilities.

“We can help them access good quality assets in Australia and around the world,” he said.

“We always engage them on the potential opportunities we are looking at.”

It is the first time that QIC has entered into an MOU with a Chinese institution. It already has a similar arrangement with Korea Investment Corporation.

QIC chairman, Don Luke, described the MOU as a “milestone” in the relationship between Australian and Chinese investment institutions.

“China is an important market for QIC given the rapid growth in Chinese domestic investment capital and increasing capital mobility between the nations,” he said.

Frawley said Ping An is interested in Australia’s superannuation system, and that QIC will play a role in helping it understand the sector.

Equally, he added, Ping An will help QIC better understand the important Chinese market.

“So this is not just about capital,” he said. “It is also a partnership of information and knowledge-sharing.

“Generally, Chinese institutions are under-invested globally. As a percentage of their total investment, their global exposure is small.”

It has been reported that just 2% of China’s total institutional assets – which grew 500% from US$1.1trn in 2005 to US$7.1trn in 2015 – are invested overseas. China’s total institutional assets are forecast to reach US$10.8trn by 2021.

PAAMC chairman Fang Wan said: “As China’s largest non-state-owned asset management company, we have always attached great importance to international business.

“PAAMC and QIC will leverage each other’s investment specialisations to provide better investment solutions for both Chinese and Australian investors.”