- Hedge funds in Hong Kong are exploring exit strategies from Asia’s financial hub as Beijing’s new security law threatens data privacy and capital control, the Financial Times reported.
- More than 420 hedge funds operate out of the semi-autonomous region, and manage almost $91 billion in assets, higher than the combined value of hedge funds managed by Singapore, Japan, and Australia.
- “What would make people like us move? Loss of social media freedom, loss of free internet access to wherever, capital controls would scare the blazes out of us, and . . . if it was harder to get visas,” one hedge fund’s chief investment officer for Asia told the FT.
- Analysts expect Singapore to emerge as a big winner from the draconian Chinese law.
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Hedge fund managers in Hong Kong are working out plans to withdraw from their usual operations in the city as China prepares to enforce its draconian new national security law on semi-autonomous region, the Financial Times said on Tuesday.
Hedge funds and traders in the world’s sixth-largest financial centre are worried they will find themselves in Beijing’s direct line of fire, the FT said, as the new security legislation signals a major blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Hong Kong, which is a former British colony, was given back to China 23 years ago in 1997. Under an agreement, China accepted governance of Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” code which enabled a certain amount of autonomy for the city, and allowed it to cement its place as one of the world’s key financial centers.
Over 420 hedge funds operate out of Hong Kong, the FT said, citing data from research firm Eurekahedge. Assets under management for Hong Kong funds are worth almost $91 billion, higher than the pooled amount managed by Singapore, Japan, and Australia together.
If the funds were to uproot operations, Hong Kong’s continued status as the “premier destination” for hedge funds would be a gamble.
“What would make people like us move? Loss of social media freedom, loss of free internet access to wherever, capital controls would scare the blazes out of us, and . . . if it was harder to get visas,” a chief investment officer for Asia at a multinational hedge fund told the FT.
He and other people within the industry believe that hedge fund managers would depart from the city on fears of facing data restrictions at the same level as those in mainland China.
Analysts told Business Insider that Singapore is likely to overtake the city as Asia’s largest financial hub as businesses move away from Hong Kong.
“If Hong Kong is imposing Chinese law by the backdoor in Hong Kong, it questions why companies need to be in Hong Kong,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia-Pacific at OANDA.
“If they don’t want to be under Chinese law but want to be more under a Western legal system, then they may as well go to Singapore,” he added.