Hong Kong protests ramp up as expat financiers take stock and make moves

Hong Kong protests ramp up as expat financiers take stock and make moves

Hong Kong protests ramp up as expat financiers take stock and make moves

As violence escalates during the ongoing Hong Kong protests, major expat players in the island’s financial sector prepare backup strategies for evacuation.

Violence by both sides has ramped up still further over the past week, causing major companies headquartered in the city to think again a bout the safety of their staff. . At the time of writing, Hong Kong police are preparing to storm a university building in which a large number of protestors have been trapped, raising even more fears of an uncontrollable situation. Expats are now in fear, if not yet for their lives but certainly for their jobs in a city considered to be one of the world’s top financial hubs.

One hedge fund manager has been provided with a panic button app in case an emergency triggers plans to evacuate him along with his family to another city, using a team of trained people. Another banker working at HSBC told the media only 50 per cent of staff arrived for work last Friday after advice was given regarding remote working as the only way to stay safe in the increasingly violent city.

Another employee working at BN Paribas said all employees are being sent emails informing them as to their safety in the office or telling them to go home early for their own protection. Rumours are spreading about Chinese government pressure being put on law firms and banks, with staff becoming more fearful as a result. Major players in the city’s top law firms are being asked which side they’re on before being granted business opportunities by Chinese companies, and employees at all levels are being urged not to speak their views in public places.

In the workplace, informal rules are being put together by employees as to refraining from discussing the situation, simply because feelings are now at an all-time high, with a Citygroup employee now shown on social media being arrested by Hong Kong police. The video has scared a large number of the firm’s employees, with a spokesperson telling the media investigations are being carried out.

In the rest of the world, a source at one huge international bank is saying its Hong Kong revenues have fallen by 25 per cent, and other major banks are reviewing their future Hong Kong investment plans, fearing that major deals will be transferred to Singapore due to its preferable and predictable outlook in the medium term. Others are reviewing investments and financial transactions by Chinese-registered companies now at possible risk of bankruptcy should the situation worsen and China move its military into the city.

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