State Street Corp., the Boston-based asset management and securities custody bank, has stepped up the pace of its international expansion with initiatives in South Africa and China.

The bank said last week that it had reached preliminary agreement to form an alliance with the Johannesburg-based Nedcor banking group to jointly market global and domestic securities-related services to institutional investors in South Africa.

The two banking groups also plan to share development of new products as well as operations in South Africa. Nedcor is one of South Africa's biggest banking groups, and has nearly $20 billion of assets.

One week earlier, State Street announced a joint venture with a Hong Kong asset management firm to distribute mutual funds in Guangdong Province, China.

The new company, State Street Mansion House Investment Management Services Group, would create funds that invest in Chinese infrastructure and aviation projects. Initially, the funds will target Chinese investors.

The fund distribution deal was sealed when the group signed a letter of intent with the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Trust and Investment Corp.

Boston-based State Street's lead bank, State Street Bank and Trust Co., formed the partnership with Mansion House Group Ltd. last summer. Each company owns a 50% stake in State Street Mansion House. The joint venture is awaiting approval from Chinese regulators.

State Street is undeterred by recent volatility in the Asian markets; it sees current market conditions as "temporary," said a spokeswoman for the company.

Earlier this month, State Street declined to comment on reports that it was interested in acquiring Yamaichi International, a unit of the failed Japanese brokerage company Yamaichi Securities Ltd.

However, State Street chairman and chief executive Marshall N. Carter told Bloomberg News Service in Tokyo last week that buying a Japanese mutual fund company is one of several options State Street is exploring.

-James R. Kraus and Niamh Ring

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