China Evergrande beats HSBC to top most charitable Hong Kong companies list in 2016

The Chinese property firm gave HK$1.8 billion to good causes last year, while overall philanthropic activity by listed companies increased from the previous year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 11:22pm

Property firm China Evergrande was the most charitable of Hong Kong’s listed companies in 2016, beating out the previous year’s top donor HSBC, according to a report on Thursday, which also showed an overall rise in philanthropic activity by listed firms.

Evergrande, whose chairman Xu Jiayin was named on Thursday as China’s richest man by the Hurun report, donated HK$1.8 billion (US$230 million) to charitable causes in 2016, according to the Sodata Analytics Foundation Association, a body which tracks donations by all listed main board companies in Hong Kong. HSBC, which had donated the most in 2015, gave HK$1.06 billion last year.

In all, Hong Kong companies listed on the exchange’s main board donated HK$12.8 billion in 2016, an increase of 24 per cent from the previous year.

“The increase in giving took place even though economic activity and the profitability of Hong Kong listed companies slowed last year,” said Michael Yip, one of the founders of Sodata Analytics, at a press conference.

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Yip said that the donations were given to a range of different charities, but focused particularly on education and disaster relief activities. Sodata relied on companies’ own disclosures in annual reports to compile the data. State-owned coal miner China Shenhua was the third most generous in 2016, giving HK$884 million.

According to Evergrande’s annual report, the developer gave to education foundations in both China and overseas, as well as donating funds for poverty alleviation.

Sodata found that 48 per cent of companies listed on the main board in Hong Kong made no donations, and a further 21 per cent gave less than HK$500 000. Of the total amount given, over half was donated by the 10 most generous companies, with smaller companies lagging behind.

“We hope that by sharing data about charitable giving more widely, we will nudge other companies to match the donations given by their competitors,” said Yip, who urged those companies who gave little in charitable donations to increase the amount.

Hong Kong companies are becoming better at disclosing information about the environmental and societal impacts of their activities. A recent survey by accounting firm BDO found that a majority of Hong Kong-listed companies went beyond meeting the minimum environment, social and governance disclosure requirements, though BDO said that more still needed to be done.