136 family offices eyeing setting up or expanding operations in Hong Kong: treasury chief

More than 130 family offices are currently eyeing setting up or expanding their operations in Hong Kong, with about three-fifths of the entities based in mainland China, the city’s treasury chief has said.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu wrote in replies to lawmakers on Wednesday that 136 family offices had indicated they were preparing or had decided to set up or expand operations in the city as of the end of March.

The tally included 82 based on the mainland, 27 from Europe, 13 from the rest of Asia, alongside nine located in the Middle East, as well as four in Oceania and one from North Africa, he said.

The minister also revealed a dedicated team from InvestHK, the city’s investment promotion agency, helped 64 family offices set up or expand their operations in the city over the same period.

A breakdown of the figure showed 49 were from the mainland, eight from the rest of Asia, four based in North America and three European ones.

“The government welcomes all lawful and rule-compliant family offices to set up in Hong Kong and will provide them with necessary and appropriate assistance, thereby promoting local financial, professional services and economic development,” he said.

Hui said the InvestHK team was confident it could achieve the target of helping at least 200 family offices to establish or expand their operations in Hong Kong by the end of 2025, a goal outlined in Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s 2022 policy address.

The minister also cited findings from an InvestHK-commissioned consultant that showed about 2,700 individual family offices were operating in the city as of the end of last year.

More than half of the figure was set up by ultra-high-net-worth individuals whose wealth reached or exceeded US$50 million, he said.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui says the decision to invest in Hong Kong and how much rests with family offices. Photo: Edmond So

The agency’s team, which assists family offices and ultra-high-net-worth individuals interested in local development opportunities, also received more than 650 inquiries about setting up family offices between its establishment in June 2021 and the end of last month, Hui said.

He noted that most of the inquiries had come from entities on the mainland, as well as those in Southeast Asian countries, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

Hui also described Hong Kong as a highly developed free-market economy and an international financial centre, saying the decision to invest and how much rested with family offices.

“The procedures of establishing a family office are no different from those of establishing a company in Hong Kong,” he said.

“Professionals of various sectors providing services concerned to family offices will conduct the necessary due diligence in compliance with the statutory requirements and relevant guidelines.”

The dedicated team at InvestHK has 17 posts, including one covering family office-related matters in the Middle East.

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The position also involves working alongside the investment promotion team at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Dubai to encourage family offices in the region to establish operations in Hong Kong.

City leader Lee earlier stressed authorities would do their best to attract asset owners to set up family offices provided that the money was legitimate money, after concerns were raised about a Dubai sheikh’s sudden decision to postpone opening a US$500 million family office in Hong Kong.

Sheikh Ali Rashed Ali Saeed Al Maktoum was at first reported to be a nephew of Dubai’s ruler and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, but was later identified as a member of a distant family branch.

His decision to call off the office’s inauguration ceremony at the eleventh hour sparked questions about his commitment to the investment, in turn prompting the sheikh to issue several statements saying he planned to press ahead and open the office at the end of May.



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