2014-February-08 South China Morning Post Howard Winn

There was some interest among CLSA staffers recently following an announcement by Citic Securities on the Hong Kong stock exchange website. It says Citic has spent 3.5 billion yuan (HK$4.4 billion) buying a plot of land in Shenzhen which will be developed as the “Citic Securities Shenzhen headquarters base project”.

The site is an enormous 31,463 square metres, according to the Shenzhen city government’s announcement.

The stock exchange announcement goes on to say: “Following the completion of the acquisition of CLSA, the company intends to base in Shenzhen in order to enhance its domestic and overseas business development and communication, and establish International Conference Centre as the permanent venue for CLSA Global Forum.”

Does this mean that CLSA will be shifting its headquarters to Shenzhen to be able to participate more intimately with Citic in its “international development strategy?”

While people at CLSA did not in principle seem opposed to the idea of living and working in Shenzhen, there were some logistical issues to consider, such as where to keep one’s Ferrari. A cross-border licence plate can cost between 300,000 and 700,000 yuan.

However, Simone Wheeler, CLSA’s head of corporate communications, said the firm would remain in Hong Kong and there were no plans to shift its investor forum to Shenzhen.

So what about this CLSA Global Forum? “Ah, that’s another forum. But it’s at a very preliminary stage … there’s not been much discussion about this,” she said.

Citic Securities’ biggest operational office is in Beijing but its registered headquarters are in Shenzhen. But it appears that the company will enhance its operations in Shenzhen, which has big plans for expanding its financial footprint with projects such as Qianhai special economic zone.

Poker-faced Chan

There has been some interest in financial circles as to what will happen when Norman Chan Tak-lam’s contract as chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority expires in October. Will Chan retire since he will have turned 60, or will he seek a renewal of his contract? If he goes, who would be the likely replacement? These and other questions have been swirling around the HKMA recently.

Legislative Councillor Christopher Cheung Wah-fung had some fun with him at the Financial Affairs Panel meeting yesterday. “Do you want to continue to serve the public?” Cheung asked.

Chan remained poker-faced and refused to be drawn on the matter. He said the financial secretary would make an announcement about the matter in due course.

Ju Ming in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Museum of Art is staging a major exhibition of the works of world-renowned Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming.

Ju’s work made him famous in Taiwan in the 1970s, and then in New York in the 1980s. He has since exhibited his work all over the world. Exchange Square has one of his famous Tai Chi series. Most of his works are housed in Ju Ming Museum outside Taiwan.

The Friends of the Hong Kong Museum of Art is holding a fundraising cocktail party on February 28 at the museum to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Tickets for the party are priced HK$850. Ju will be present to meet guests and discuss his work.

Insurance matters

If you are looking for signs that China’s financial services market is turning the corner to an excess-driven developed market, just look at the insurance market.

Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that the growing number of dogs and cats kept as pets in Hong Kong and on the mainland is expected to lead to an increase in demand for pet insurance, according to a study by reinsurer Munich Re.

Meanwhile, Accenture released a report suggesting that online competitors – such as Alibaba – are likely to cut in on the action of traditional insurers because it is clear there is demand, and consumers on the mainland are more willing than those elsewhere in the world to buy insurance online.

When you have got the discretionary income to insure your mutt, and non-traditional players start making a play for a slice of the market, you know there is excess demand.