Hong Kong plans to relax 14-day quarantine rule for executives of 480 of the largest companies listed in Hong Kong such as Tencent and Alibaba
“We want to open the border step-by-step”, says Christopher Hui, city’s newly appointed secretary for financial services and the treasury.
Christopher Hui Ching-yu, who took the job in April, said in an interview that these companies will be able to send two directors or executives every month to the city for the signing of deals, to attend meetings and for other company affairs.
Auditors who need to visit mainland Chinese companies, as well as directors who need to come to Hong Kong for regulatory meetings, such as initial public offering hearings, have been allowed to move across the border with mainland China without being quarantined since last month.
It will expand the exemption to cover business activity beyond these two instances above.
The relaxation will cover mainland Chinese companies such as Tencent Holdings and South China Morning Post parent Alibaba Group Holding, the two largest companies listed in Hong Kong. Moreover, executives of insurer AIA or HSBC, for instance, who need to go to mainland China for these purposes, will not be quarantined on their return to Hong Kong.
The move comes in place with the Hong Kong government’s latest effort aimed at bringing back deals and other business activity to reboot the city’s economy, Hui said.
The city has had to implement social distancing measures and close its borders because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected almost 7 million people and led to at least 400,000 deaths globally. These measures have curtailed travel for work and delayed deals as well as other business activities.
“We want to open the border step-by-step, and it will be better to allow a limited number of people first, before expanding it further. It is, however, an important step to allow large companies to resume cross-border business travel to handle their business activities,” Hui said.
The 480 companies for whom cross-border travel has been eased represent about 95 percent of the total market capitalization – HK$34 trillion (US$4.38 trillion) – of the Hong Kong stock market.
Mike Wong Ming-wai, Chief Executive of The Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies, welcomed the move, but said he wanted to see all listed companies covered. Monday’s relaxation excludes about 1,900 smaller players. “All 2,400-plus listed companies have a lot of cross-border business. It is important to relax the [quarantine] rule and resume normal business activity,” Wong said.
Source: South China Morning Post