HSBC to host next investment summit in early 2025 after resounding success of ‘Hong Kong is back’ pitch

HSBC to host next investment summit in early 2025 after resounding success of ‘Hong Kong is back’ pitch

HSBC to host next investment summit in early 2025 after resounding success of ‘Hong Kong is back’ pitch

HSBC plans to host another global investment summit within the first four months of 2025 in the city, after this year’s sell-out inaugural conference drew 3,500 attendees, an overwhelming success that CEO Noel Quinn said was proof that “Hong Kong is back”.

The bank hosted more than 5,000 meetings over three days for attendees and customers from over 40 countries, Quinn said during a post-conference interview on Wednesday. That response was testament to the deep interest among global investors about Hong Kong, given the city’s role as the bridge between the world and the vast business opportunities in mainland China, he said.

“That is a level of interest in Hong Kong as a market,” he said, adding that many of his clients and guests have only returned to the city for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic’s breakout in 2020. “They did not come just to hear us say wonderful words and speak about HSBC, they came because they wanted to understand and see Hong Kong.”

Having Hong Kong in the spotlight suits HSBC, which earned 35 per cent, or US$10.7 billion, of its pre-tax fourth-quarter profit from the city, making it the bank’s largest single market. Hong Kong, the “H” in the bank’s name where it was established in 1865, also contributed the most to HSBC’s deposits, assets, spending on cards, insurance and cash management.

HSBC’s chief executive officer Noel Quinn in Hong Kong on April 8, 2024. Photo: Bloomberg.

Quinn’s upbeat remarks echoed the pitch by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, who offered the city as the prime destination for global investors, encouraging financiers to “spend big” in the city.

Hong Kong’s financial market, the fourth largest in the world by size and depth, has shown resilience against several years of economic headwinds, said the city’s financial regulators including the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s CEO Eddie Yue Wai-man, the Securities and Futures Commission CEO Julia Leung.

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Living up to its role as what Lee calls the “value-added superconnector” between China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong has been actively engaging with mainland authorities to expand the Connect transborder investment channels. Wealth Connect, Bond Connect and green finance initiatives will be expanded, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said during a Monday fireside chat at the conference at the Conrad Hotel.

The connectivity underscores the success of “one country two systems,” said HSBC’s Asia-Pacific co-CEO David Liao.

“It is about a balance of distinction on the one hand and connectivity on the other, and this culminates into every effort that Hong Kong has been trying,” Liao said in his closing remarks at the conference.

HSBC Asia-Pacific Co-CEO David Liao is pictured at HSBC Headquarter in Central in December 2023. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Investors are still bullish on the mainland, with “time” being the key condition, said Quinn, who attended the China Development Forum on March 25 in Beijing, organised by the State Council’s Development Research Center.

“One of the things that was very clear in most of the conversations I had [is that] China is still a huge opportunity for [global investors], but very much [in the] medium and long term,” he said. “At times, we’re a bit impatient. With Covid over, why isn’t everything back to normal? It does take a while.”

There are signs that some of the economic headwinds buffeting the region may be subsiding. Quinn was “pleased” with China’s economic growth pace of 5.2 per cent.

“We believe they can achieve around 5 per cent GDP growth this year, but I think investors will want to just see more evidence of that, and they’ll come back into the market,” he said.

The summit comprised over 70 speakers with notable appearances, such as Bill Gates, the founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via video on Wednesday, and Martin Eberhard, a founder and former CEO of Tesla, who appeared in person on Tuesday.

The topics of the panels ranged from issues and ideas in technology to sustainability and climate change to the Asia-Middle East corridor, among others.

“There were no significant topics that we discussed in the past two days that Hong Kong is not relevant, affected, does not suffer or benefit from,” Liao said. “Hong Kong is … exploring, experimenting and defining its new identity. It is not and will not be a carbon copy of any other city. In fact, it will not be the same as before.”

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