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Singapore is outperforming Hong Kong in a significant shift in business activity, says ANZ Group Holdings Ltd Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott.

According to Elliott, his clients have been increasingly opting to invest their regional treasury capabilities in Singapore, marking a migration of business activity towards the smaller Asia-Pacific trading hub, reports Yahoo Finance.

Elliott stated, “There has been a migration toward Singapore, there’s no doubt about that. That’s also true of financial institutions. The data is clear, more financial markets capability, money center capability, Singapore has been a relative winner over that period of time.”

ANZ Group’s presence in Singapore has doubled, with it now employing around 800 people, compared to its headcount in Hong Kong.

The Battle For Capital And Talent

The competition between Hong Kong and Singapore for capital and talent has intensified in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic’s limitations on travel led many in the finance industry to reconsider their locations.

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Singapore saw an influx of high-skilled professionals and businesses seeking refuge from Hong Kong’s stringent COVID-19 lockdowns. However, it still has a long way to go before it can surpass Hong Kong as a trading hub and a preferred base for banks looking to establish a gateway to China.

Elliott observed, “We’d be remiss not to say that Singapore, in a relative sense, has outgrown Hong Kong from our perspective. More of our customers have chosen to invest their regional treasury capabilities in Singapore. But Hong Kong is still a very important centre for us.

Changing Landscape In Hong Kong

The changing landscape in Hong Kong is evident as China’s strict approach to combating COVID-19 prompted many bankers to leave the region. They sought refuge in Singapore and other global cities. Hong Kong recently lost its longstanding status as the world’s freest economy to Singapore, according to a ranking by the Canadian think tank Fraser Institute. The ranking cited more restrictive regulations and the erosion of judicial independence in Hong Kong as contributing factors.

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National Australia Bank Ltd. also announced plans to close its Hong Kong office and consolidate its operations in Singapore, mainland China, and Japan.

China’s Economic Challenges

Weakening business prospects in mainland China, which is grappling with an economic slowdown and a real estate crisis, are driving financial firms to reduce their presence in the region. Nevertheless, Singapore has faced scrutiny due to a recent multi-billion-dollar money laundering scandal involving some of the largest local and international banks.

Elliott remains confident of ANZ’s ability to secure approval for the purchase of Suncorp Group Ltd.’s banking arm despite the initial blockage by Australia’s competition regulator. He emphasized, “We’ve got a very strong case,” adding that there are limited other acquisition targets in the domestic market dominated by major Australian banks.

Elliott, the longest-serving chief of a major Australian bank, mentioned that his board is actively considering long-term succession planning. He did not provide specific details on the timing of his replacement. ANZ Chairman Paul O’Sullivan noted, “A good board always benchmarks against external candidates,” while highlighting the internal talent pool ANZ has developed over time.

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The post appeared first on The Independent News.


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