Chinese Firms Take Over

Chinese Firms Take Over HK Office Space Vacated By Overseas Companies

HONG KONG – Companies from mainland China are taking over the upscale office space relinquished by foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported The Financial Times on Monday morning (29 May, SGT).

For instance, three sources revealed that ByteDance is set to lease around 16,000 sq ft of workspace at One International Financial Centre, which was previously occupied by Switzerland-based bank Julius Baer, which in turn has relocated to Two Taikoo Place at Quarry Bay.

Similarly, an affiliate of government-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is poised to occupy almost 14,000 sq ft of office space in Central previously occupied by coworking space operator Regus, a subsidiary of IWG.

Data from real estate consultancy Colliers showed that mainland Chinese firms accounted for 29 percent of the new office rentals in Hong Kong’s Central in Q1 2023. This is up from 21 percent and 23 for the entirety of 2022 and 2021 respectively.

Cushman & Wakefield’s (C&W) Research Head in Hong Kong Rosanna Tang shared that mainland Chinese firms still find Hong Kong appealing as it’s “a global financial centre,” with financial firms including insurance providers among those from mainland Chinese keen to lease offices in the city.

In fact, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is searching for a new workspace in Hong Kong for rental or acquisition. Three sources disclosed that it has recently inspected two new office buildings, namely The Henderson and Cheung Kong Centre II.

Moreover, United Energy, an oil and gas firm controlled by Chinese mogul Zhang Hongwei, is poised to be the maiden occupant at Cheung Kong Centre II.

On the other hand, property agents shared that many overseas firms have reduced their office space in Hong Kong or are relocating their employees to less expensive areas in the city.

For example, French lender BNP Paribas and Japanese bank MUFG are among foreign firms that intend to move staff away from Central. CBRE Hong Kong’s head of office services Ada Fung also revealed that UBS is poised to move its employees from Central to West Kowloon from 2026.

In addition, US transport and delivery company FedEx is relocating its Asia Pacific headquarter from Hong Kong to Singapore.

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