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The Evolving Landscape of Hong Kong

posted 1 month ago

Author and industry veteran Belinda Wong speaks to REM TIMES about the investment opportunities in the region

With over 30 years of experience in providing company secretarial services to local and multinational corporations, Belinda Wong has a wealth of knowledge on Hong Kong corporate law, general management and investment.

The author of seven books on secretarial practice and the Thought Leader (Hong Kong) of the Private Wealth & Family Office Association, Advisory Board Member of Unify21.com and the Manager of the Startup China Club, Wong first started working in some professional service firms before joining PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong and international law firms. In an interview with REM TIMES, Wong speaks about the evolving landscape of Hong Kong’s real estate and the ways to foster business growth across all industries.

Q1. What do you think of the evolving real estate landscape of Hong Kong, and what opportunities do you foresee for investors and businesses in the Special Administrative Region of China? When it comes to investment, timing is the key. All investment assets have their ups and downs. Market research into the assets must be made. For real estates in Hong Kong, the most popular types are: residential, commercial and industrial. Prices have been dropping for quite a while for several years. Anyone wishing to buy property in Hong Kong must be clear whether the purchase is for own-use or speculation, long term or short term. The Rating and Valuation Department publishes statistics on the property market regularly. Property services companies and banks have their own statistics. Research has to be made into different types e.g. Grade A, Grade B commercial, residential (high rise or low rise), detached houses in different districts on price variations and fluctuations. Vacancies and development programs due for completion in the next few years have to be studied. The research results could indicate appropriate times to invest into different real estate sectors.

Q2. What strategies do you recommend for fostering business growth and investment in Hong Kong, regardless of the industry?

When one aspires to be a founder of an enterprise or start-up, a good stock must be taken of one’s resources – knowledge, skills, experiences, personal networks etc. Based on all these, careful consideration has to be made on what kind of products or services could be provided to the designated markets. Then one must analyse how big is the market and how receptive it is to the products and services that are to be provided? Many new businesses have ambitious plans of scaling up fast and big. The importance of barriers and obstacles are often underestimated or even neglected. To build a successful and sustainable business, it is advisable to have a longer-term business plan. It’s essential to take one step at a time slowly with buffers to fine tune the products or services in response to the changes in consumer preference and market situations. The capability of the founder and his/her team has to be upgraded constantly. To be aware of the market situation, commercial networks have to be built up. There are lots of business associations, professional bodies as well as chambers of commerce in Hong Kong. Officers of the Government of the HKSAR (HKSAR) attend events of these organisations frequently to explain the current government policies as well as the trading relationships with other countries/ jurisdictions. Socialising with other entrepreneurs could offer insights into the market trends and how businesses could be managed in a different way. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) organises exhibitions for a wide variety of industries. Valuable contacts could be made. Seminars for small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are held for building knowledge and trading relationships at the HKTDC Centre. Entrepreneurs should make good use of these free resources.

Q3. How do you advocate for SME interests across various sectors, and what policies do you believe are crucial for fostering business growth in Hong Kong’s diverse market?

As a start, initial capital outlay should be minimised as much as possible.  Test the market first. If the response is good, it will be easier to raise outside capitals. Once an enterprise has been in operation for two or more years, there are fundings available to help its growth. The SME ReachOut located at the Hong Kong Productivity Centre offers 40+ government funding schemes for SMEs with free consultation on the choice of the appropriate scheme(s). One caution: founder must be crystal clear that the funding is really needed and financial discipline is in place to make good use of the money. Over-leveraging sometimes led to the collapse of a business. Startups with new technology should apply either to the Hong Kong and Science Technology Park or Cyberport. These two government bodies offer acceleration programs to help startups grow – both in getting Venture Capital funding as well as market expansion. Mentors from different industries are available to give good advice.

Q4. What fundamental principles contribute to a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO), and how can businesses prepare effectively for this milestone?

Once a business has gained a solid foothold in its industry, its banker or some investment banks will notice and start persuading it to go for a listing (IPO).  Again, the founder must ask – is IPO important for the continuous growth of the business? If the answer is yes, then a choice must be made on the choice of jurisdictions for listing.. It should be noted that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Limited has Main Board and Growth Enterprise Market to choose from. Offshore jurisdictions are acceptable for listing here. The Main Board prescribes criteria for getting listed in Hong Kong with different specific criteria for mineral companies, biotech companies, special purpose acquisition companies, biotech companies as well as investment companies. If it is decided to have an IPO in Hong Kong, the appropriate category should be chosen. Listing team comprising the sponsor(s), underwriter(s), lawyer(s), reporting accountant should be formed, each must have the appropriate market credibility. Prior to listing, a sufficient number of independent non-executive directors with diverse gender and industry experiences must be appointed. Each of them must be available to contribute to the good governance and business growth of the business.

First published on : https://www.remtimes.com/blogs/interviews/the-evolving-landscape-of-hong-kong.php



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