Bloomberg News

Hong Kong Equipped to Host Corporate Headquarters, HSBC Says

January 12, 2012

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong, where China’s biggest banks are listed, has the infrastructure, services and legal system to host global headquarters for companies, according to HSBC Holdings Plc Chairman Douglas Flint.

“It has all the necessary qualifications to be a relevant choice,” Flint said in a Dec. 19 interview with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, without saying if HSBC would consider relocating its headquarters to the Chinese city from London.

HSBC, which got a third of its operating income from Hong Kong in 2010, faced calls from investors to consider moving its headquarters after Britain imposed a bank levy to raise 2.5 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) from lenders. Hong Kong would “absolutely” welcome the banks relocating to the former British territory, the city’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang said in September.

The U.K. government imposed new rules for banks published last September that include separating consumer and investment banking operations, which aims to shield customers from another financial crisis.

HSBC is “is being increasingly asked by shareholders and investors about the likely additional cost of being headquartered in the U.K.,” Flint and Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver said in a statement last March.

London is still the bank’s first choice, HSBC said at the time.

HSBC’s yuan trade business will grow as the Asian currency is poised to join the dollar and the euro as a “significant” investment currency, he said.

“Hong Kong has a leading position in that today, which it will clearly seek to protect and grow,” Flint said.

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank by market value, traces its roots to the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. which was required by British regulators to move to London from Hong Kong in 1992 after it acquired Midland Bank Plc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Yun in Hong Kong at myun11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net


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