Number of overseas and Mainland companies in Hong Kong keeps rising

Maria Nikolova

Across sectors, import/export trade, wholesale and retail dominate the mix of businesses, followed by financing and banking.

The number of businesses in Hong Kong with parent companies overseas and in Mainland China increased to 8,754 in 2018, compared to 8,225 a year ago, according to the results of a joint survey conducted by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) and the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD). The data reflects the situation at June 1, 2018.

Results of the 2018 Annual Survey of Companies in Hong Kong with Parent Companies Located Outside Hong Kong show that the total of 8,754 respondent companies included 1,530 operating as regional headquarters (RHQs), 2,425 as regional offices (ROs) and 4,799 as local offices (LOs).

In terms of jobs, the number of people engaged by the overseas and Mainland companies reached 485,000, compared to 443,000 in 2017.

Across sectors, import/export trade, wholesale and retail topped the list (3,950), followed by financing and banking (1,806), and professional, business and education services (1,262).

The numbers are in line with data in the SFC Compliance Bulletin published in May this year. The paper highlighted the growing number of Mainland entities choosing to establish or extend their financial services businesses in Hong Kong through setting up new licensed entities or acquiring existing ones.

In 2012, the Mainland overtook the United States to become the largest source of shareholder groups controlling licensed corporations (LCs). According to the SFC Compliance Bulletin, about 13% of all LCs are now controlled by Mainland-based corporate shareholders, as compared to 9% in 2012.

As per data from a recent Quarterly Report by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) summarizing the key developments during the three months to June 2018, there has been a rise in the number of license applicants. During the quarter, the SFC received 2,030 licence applications, up 2.7% from the preceding quarter and up 19.6% from the equivalent period in 2017. The number of corporate applications, however, dropped 10.7% from the last quarter to 75, down 6.3% year-on-year.

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