China’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong are expected to lead to the flight of capital and talent from the Asian financial hub, bankers and headhunters said.
The proposed legislation, which prompted concerns over freedoms in the territory, comes after large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations last year, which had already pushed some wealthy individuals to scout for investment options elsewhere.
“In some cases where clients had a bit of inertia and hoped things that happened last year will just go away, they will now step on the gas to reduce their wealth concentration risk here,” a senior banker at a European private bank said.
“In many cases last year, we saw our clients putting in place plan B and didn’t quite move the assets out of Hong Kong. I have already received some inquiries to activate that plan now,” said the banker, whose firm manages more than US$200 billion in assets.
The banker declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Hong Kong’s main stock market index yesterday fell more than 5 percent.
Globally, Hong Kong ranked second in wealth per adult after Switzerland in the middle of last year and the territory ranked 10th in terms of the number of ultra-high-net worth individuals or those with more than US$50 million in assets, according to a Credit Suisse report.
Hong Kong competes fiercely with Singapore to be considered Asia’s premier financial center. Global private banks including Credit Suisse and UBS, as well as Asian wealth managers, have their regional operations in the two hubs.
“We have had instances where clients were considering establishing a presence in Hong Kong ... but due to the pro-democracy protests in 2019, they decided to set up a presence in Singapore instead,” said Rahul Sen, London-based partner for wealth management headhunting and consulting firm Boyden.
“Existing banks in Hong Kong will also look at increasing their Greater China coverage from Singapore if the protests last longer or a feasible solution is not sought,” Sen said.
Pro-democracy activists and politicians in Hong Kong have for years opposed the idea of having to adhere to Chinese national security laws, arguing they could erode the city’s high degree of autonomy, guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” handover agreement reached in 1997.
The proposed legislation would safeguard the central Chinese government’s “overall jurisdiction” as well as Hong Kong’s “high autonomy,” a draft said.
Australia’s largest newspaper publisher, News Corp, yesterday announced that most of its suburban and regional mastheads nationwide would next month become digital-only due to the COVID-19 pandemic and digital platforms sharing their content. News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller described the shift that is to take effect on June 29 as significant and said that jobs would be lost, but did not say how many. “COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing. Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 percent as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent
PLANNED OUT: The government is lifting sale and export restrictions on 60% of the 20 million masks made daily, but people can still make purchases using their NHI cards Twenty thousand boxes of 50 masks each would be on sale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting tomorrow, Taiwan FamilyMart Co Ltd (全家便利商店) said yesterday. A box of 50 masks would cost NT$249 for those with FamilyMart memberships and NT$299 for those without, with no limits placed on how many boxes a person can buy, the company said. Convenience store chain operator Hi-Life International Co Ltd (萊爾富) said that it would also start selling masks from tomorrow. It has yet to announce details about prices and quantity. Hypermarket chain operator Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福) said that it would start selling packs of five
BOOSTING BUYING: A source said that the idea of pre-ordering vouchers online is being considered, but the preliminary plan is for people to buy them at post offices A stimulus voucher program to be rolled out next month to boost consumption would be available not only to Taiwanese, but also foreign nationals and Chinese spouses who hold residency permits, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. The government is fine-tuning the details of the program, which involves issuing vouchers for in-store purchases to revive buying amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During a radio interview on Monday last week, National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said that the plan is to allow anyone, regardless of age or income level, to buy NT$3,000 (US$99.89) worth of vouchers for
Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) is expected to recover quickly from the effects of COVID-19, as life returns to normal and thanks to the government’s domestic travel incentives, Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co (元大投顧) said in a note on Friday. THSRC’s business might have bottomed out after revenue fell 49.83 percent year-on-year to NT$2.03 billion (US$67.59 million) in April, the lowest in nearly 10 years, while combined revenue in the first four months dropped 26.44 percent to NT$11.63 billion, as the COVID-19 outbreak reduced ridership, the investment consultancy said. “The worst should be over in April as domestic tourism