China Life , the world's biggest insurer by market capitalisation, has become the first Chinese insurance company to be granted a license to form a private equity fund, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.

China Life has identified its first investment after obtaining the license, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing sources it described as authoritative.

China Life has formed a team of 20-30 people who have been tasked with identifying investment opportunities for the private equity business, the newspaper said.

China Life was not immediately available for comment.

Last year, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) said insurers would be allowed to broaden their investment channels into private equity and real estate, a move that could unleash as much as $100 billion worth of capital into the two sectors.

Insurers are allowed to invest up to 5 percent of their total assets in private equity and related financial products and 10 percent in real estate.

Insurance companies previously had to apply for approval from the insurance regulator for every investment they made, but now have greater flexibility in selecting investments for their private equity operations as long as they comply with the 5 percent investment cap, the 21st Business Century Herald said.

"" "" ""