HK is top base for global business

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 July, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong ranks as the most popular location for global businesses, with 68.2 per cent of the world's major international companies having a presence in the city.

That finding is contained in the latest 'Business Footprints' survey by property consultancy CB Richard Ellis, which also found an increasing trend among global companies to open offices throughout the wider Asian region, reflecting a shift in global economic power.

Asia's dominance in the rankings of the world's leading business hubs was striking, said CBRE, after polling 280 of the world's largest companies in 101 countries and 232 cities in the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The companies were asked about a range of topics, including their favoured locations and expansion strategies.

Hong Kong was closely followed by Singapore (a favoured destination and offshore home to 67.5 per cent of surveyed companies), and then by Tokyo (63.9 per cent). London ranked in fourth place globally, with 63.2 per cent of companies surveyed basing some part of their operations in the British capital; it was the only city in the Western world to be ranked in the top five.

Shanghai (61.4 per cent) ranked fifth as it capitalises on increasing recognition of its status as the financial and business capital of China.

Edward Farrelly, CBRE's director of research for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, said Hong Kong was attractive to international businesses due to its location, lack of foreign ownership restrictions, trilingual mix, and an international and highly skilled workforce. 'It is the key gateway city for accessing China and is set to benefit most from the gradual liberalisation of the Chinese financial services markets,' he said.

This view that Hong Kong had maintained its attractiveness as an international business hub was echoed by Paul Brough, senior regional partner in the Hong Kong office of KPMG, one of the world's four biggest accountancy, tax advice, and auditing firms

'Hong Kong remains a key location as gateway to China and Southeast Asia,' said Brough, who noted that financial services payrolls were the biggest cost and rents were of relatively lower concern.

Salaries of Hong Kong staff are high, but they are productive and hard-working, and the city is therefore still a preferred location for international companies.

Brough said the firm's new global chairman, Michael Andrew, would open his office in Hong Kong when he officially took up the post on October 1. He will be the first of the chairmen of the 'Big Four' firms to be stationed in the city and made the decision because of Hong Kong's access to China and Southeast Asia, Brough said.

KPMG will take up five office floors at Hysan Place after the retail and office tower in Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, is completed later this year. This office will become the firm's headquarters in the city.

In a separate CBRE research report, office rents rose for the second quarter and demand for prime office space remained strong despite high rents. In the core Central district, rents rose 4.5 per cent and occupier demand drove vacancy rates down to near-record low levels, reaching just 3.8 per cent in Central.

An industry-specific breakdown of office demand in its 'Business Footprints' survey indicated that London and New York ranked as the premier locations globally for the banking and finance sector, with 92 per cent of firms having an office in the cities, while Hong Kong was just behind on 88 per cent.

London was also ranked as the most popular location for professional services firms, with Hong Kong again coming a close second.