Banking & finance
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Pedestrians wear protective masks in Hong Kong’s Central district on Wednesday. The cancellations, the worst since the 2003 Sars outbreak, are likely to affect the sales of financial products and real estate in the city, one of the world’s largest international financial centres. Photo: Bloomberg

Hong Kong businesses cancel promotional events, launches and spring lunches as coronavirus fear grips city

  • Brokerage body cancels year’s biggest industry event
  • Manulife delays launch event of retirement mutual fund, property developer HKR International cancels media launch of Discovery Bay projects

Business events ranging from exhibitions, property sales and financial product launches to spring receptions have either been cancelled or delay across Hong Kong, as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The cancellations, the worst since the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak, are likely to affect the sales of financial products and real estate in the city, one of the world’s largest international financial centres, analysts said.

A joint annual spring reception organised by 10 industry bodies that represent 600 Hong Kong stock brokerages, to be held on February 5, is among events cancelled recently.

“As a result of the outbreak, we have decided to cancel the event, as we are concerned about the health and safety of all attendants and staff,” said Gordon Tsui, chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association.

Tsui said the annual event, usually attended by more than 1,000 traders and government officials, is the largest annual event of the securities industry in the city. This year’s event cost about HK$300,000 (US$38,598) to organise, and the cancellation means the organisers will have to give up a deposit equally half of this amount.

Hong Kong gold market makes best Lunar New Year debut since 2016

“That is expensive but we still need to cancel it, as we need to avoid a crowded event. We did not opt for a delay, as we do not know when the outbreak will end,” he said.

Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing cancelled a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the first trading day of the Year of the Rat, while the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society did not open its ceremony to the public or media because of the Wuhan outbreak.

Several companies have also either delayed or cancelled their spring lunches, which are used to promote products or services, because of the outbreak. Insurer Manulife Investment Management said it would delay the launch event of a new retirement mutual fund, to be initially held on Thursday, February 6, to later in the month.

Hang Seng in worst Lunar New Year debut since 2016 amid virus scare

Hong Kong property developer HKR International said it had cancelled a media spring lunch scheduled for Wednesday, February 5, where it was going to promote Il Picco and Poggibonsi, two of its luxury projects located in Hong Kong’s Discovery Bay.

“The delay of these financial and property promotion events might slowdown sales. These companies might need to consider online promotions. It will also be bad news for restaurants and event operators,” Tsui said.

Standard Chartered bank, Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China as well as Qianhai Authority’s Hong Kong office have also postponed their spring lunches due to the outbreak.