Number of firms registered in Qianhai rises 68 per cent, but small players can’t get a look in

The special economic zone next to Shenzhen is urged to relax some of the restrictions preventing small brokers and accountants from moving in

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 8:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 10:55pm

The number of companies registered in the Qianhai special economic zone rose 68 per cent to 124,000 last year.

Almost half of them are financial firms, a trend that is likely to continue as Beijing promotes the zone as a financial services hub, according to officials and analysts.

Brokers and accountants, however, urged Qianhai to further relax its rules to allow smaller players to operate.

Witman Hung, principal liaison officer for the Hong Kong office of the Qianhai Authority, said 53,088 companies were newly registered at the economic zone next to Shenzhen. The gross economic product of the area rose 38 per cent year-on-year to 141 billion yuan, while the total tax revenue from the companies operating there climbed 55 per cent to 27 billion yuan.

“We have seen more companies registered in Qianhai and start operating in the area last year. This trend is going to continue with the launch of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Fund Town this year and also due to the opportunities arising from the One Belt, One Road projects,” Hung said at the annual media briefing in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Thirty-nine per cent of the firms in Qianhai are from Hong Kong, with the rest from mainland cities and overseas. By sector, 47 per cent of the companies are financial firms, 28 per cent are in technology and professional services, 16 per cent are modern logistic and 11 per cent are in information services.

Big players such as Ping An Insurance and internet giant Tencent are planning to move in, while HSBC and Hang Seng Bank have branches there.

Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, Hong Kong lawmaker for the financial services sector, criticised Qianhai for only focusing on big players.

“Smaller financial firms including all local brokers could not open offices in Qianhai. Beijing should give more licences to allow Hong Kong securities firms to set up in Qianhai to serve the mainlanders,” Cheung said.

Clement Chan Kam-wing, managing director of accounting firm BDO, said Qianhai has failed to attract many Hong Kong accounting firms as there were still too many restrictions.

“If Qianhai would allow Hong Kong accountants to become partners at the accounting firms operating in Qianhai, it would attract more Hong Kong accountants to move their offices there,” Chan said.

Hung expects more financial firms and professionals to move into Qianhai to tap opportunities arising from the “One Belt, One Road” project which was initiated by Beijing in 2013 to build roads, railways and other infrastructure in 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Europe to promote trade.

“Hong Kong professionals could help raise funds to finance these projects while Qianhai could be a venue to introduce mainlanders to these projects,” he said.

The authority in October announced a plan to build a new 150,000 square metre Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Fund Town for 100 large fund companies to operate. Construction is scheduled to finish in October this year.

“We have already received some big international names’ fund arms including HSBC and Hang Seng Bank expressing an interest to move in. This follows the concept of Greenwich in the US where there are offices for many fund houses located together to make it easier for them to exchange ideas,” said Hung.