Hong Kong convinces Goldman Sachs and other bank CEOs after lifting strict Covid rules

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced on Thursday that it would also welcome executives Goldman Sachs (GS) CEODavid Solomon, MorganStanley (MRS) CEO James Gorman, Standard Chartered (SCBFF) CEO Bill Winters and HSBC (HSBC) CEO Noel Quinn into town in November.
top executives UBS (UBS), Black Rock (BLACK), Black Stone (BX) and JP Morgan (JPM) are also on the program, which starts on November 2nd and includes around 200 participants.

Rather than having to isolate themselves in a designated hotel room for three nights at their own expense, business travelers and tourists can now settle into accommodation of their choice as long as they monitor their health for three days, including by conducting rapid Covid tests.

Under current rules, travelers are free to move about, although they may not be allowed access to restaurants or bars for the first three days of their stay.

The summit was announced by Hong Kong Finance Minister Paul Chan in February.

But for several months there was little news of his agenda, leading to speculation that high-flying bankers would be reluctant to attend the event if it meant spending time in mandatory quarantine to do so.

The Hong Kong government has granted special exemptions in the past. Last year, JP Morgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon was allowed to visit the city without such restrictions when he flew to meet the bank’s regional head and local staff.

However, the arrival of a wealthy non-quarantine outsider sparked public anger, with most arrivals forced to self-isolate in hotels for up to 21 days at their own expense.

The backlash reached such heights that it forced then Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to defend Dimon’s special arrangement, saying it was in the interest of “Hong Kong’s economy”.

It is like many people It’s inconvenient for executives to travel to Hong Kong “when things aren’t actually open,” a person who works in the city’s financial industry told CNN Business. They asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

If someone requested an exemption similar to Dimon’s, having two sets of standards would be “very problematic – especially when Hong Kong residents have increased over the past two years,” the person added.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is allowed to skip Hong Kong quarantine
Hong Kong is the base for JPMorgan’s Asia Pacific headquarters, as well as many other financial companies.
But it has been hampered by its strict “zero-Covid” policy for the past two years, prompting the international business community to warn of severe economic damage and a mass exodus of talent to rival cities like Singapore.

The strict rules have also prompted relentless questioning of executives like HSBC’s Quinn, who was repeatedly asked on recent conference calls if he thought Hong Kong was still a strong banking hub.

Well, the conference will be an important part of the city’s effort to show that it is truly open again for global business.

In a statement Thursday, HKMA chief Eddie Yue said delegates at the summit would discuss rising interest rate hikes and global inflation, among other issues.

“I am very grateful to our friends who are arriving to attend the summit at a time when some anti-epidemic controls are still in effect,” he said, noting that “the recent easing of some control measures is helpful.”

“We need to make sure they can meet people, do business and build relationships, just like they expect from a vibrant international city,” Yue added.

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