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Issue No. 60



Hong Kong’s Best Selling Business Magazine




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In this issue, we are taking a look at luxury home transaction activities during the pandemic, with research finding out that investor sentiment is tied to the changing levels of public confidence amidst the crisis. Read more about the volatility of the luxury property sector on page 22.

this, flip over to page 24.

We also delved into commercial and retail property market as domestic demand shows the return of optimism across these sectors. To know more about

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Louis Shek PRODUCTION EDITOR Janine Ballesteros PRODUCTION TEAM Alecsandra Denise Tubiera Beatrix Malesido Djan Magbanua GRAPHIC ARTIST Tyrone De Los Santos ADVERTISING CONTACTS Louis Shek +852 6099 9768 louis@hongkongbusiness.hk Karisse Coderes karisse@charltonmediamail.com

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Further, with the first half of 2020 seeing a new era of banking, Hong Kong Business spoke with ZA Bank, which introduced Hong Kong’s first-ever “30 Minutes Pledge” for loan services. Check out our exclusive interview with ZA Bank’s CEO, Rockson Hsu on page 20. We have also included in this issue the first-ever China Technology Excellence Awards and China International Business Awards, as well as the annual Hong Kong Technology Excellence Awards and Hong Kong Business Awards, all held virtually. Enjoy the issue!

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Editorial Enquiries: If you have a story idea or just a press release, please email: editorial@hongkongbusiness.Hong Kong and our news editor will read it. For Media Partnerships, please email: editorial@hongkongbusiness. Hong Kong and put “partnership” in the subject line and it will forward to the right person. Subscriptions email: subscriptions@charltonmedia.com Hong Kong Business is published by Charlton Media Group. All editorial is copyright and may not be reproduced without consent. Contributions are invited but copies of all work should be kept as Hong Kong Business can accept no responsibility for loss. We will however take the gains. Sold on newstands in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, London, and New York *If you’re reading the small print you may be missing the big picture   








FIRST 08 Hong Kong firms to downsize office




REGULAR 12 Space Watch


30 Technology Excellence Awards



09 Home prices to drop by 10% 10 Financial services to focus on

54 Hong Kong Business Awards 2020 62 China International Business


STARTUPS 13 Green Monday NEAT

Awards and China Technology Excellence Awards 2020

OPINION 66 Jared Ng: Graduates need guts,

gumption, and a global mindset

68 Girish Ramachandran: A new dawn for retailers across the Asia Pacific region

Published Bi-monthly on the Second week of the Month by Charlton Media Group Pte Ltd, 19/F, Yat Chau Building,DECEMBER2019 4 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JANUARY 2020 262 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong

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News from hongkongbusiness.hk Daily news from Hong Kong MOST READ



Hong Kong landlords foray into the co-working space sector as operators

Total exports contract by 2.3% in third quarter

Hong Kong luxury apartment rents slip 0.4% in Q3

A Knight Frank report notes that over time, the belief that co-working space operators will disrupt the office space sector has encouraged an influx of capital investment to the co-working space sector, fuelling its growth in the past few years.

Total exports of goods continues to decline with a 2.3% YoY drop in Q3, data from the Census & Statistics Department (C&SD) revealed. Imports also dipped 5.7% YoY during the same period. This is the eighth consecutive month of decline.

Luxury apartment rents on Hong Kong Island and the New Territories fell by 0.4% and 1.7% respectively in Q3, whilst Kowloon rents rebounded by 1.2%. Pokfulam was the only district to post a rental increment with a 0.1% increase.


Office vacancy rates in Central Hong Kong hit 15-year high of 6% Momentum in new lettings picked up modestly in August, increasing 10% MoM, as the third wave of COVID-19 cases began to recede according to JLL. Net take-up also improved despite still being in negative territory, amounting to 147,500 sq ft (net floor area or NFA), the least negative figure recorded so far in 2020.





Labour market remains ‘austere’ in June-August Data from the Census & Statistic Department (C&SD) revealed that the underemployment rate, particularly in consumption and tourism-related sectors, was at 10.9%, edging up 0.1 percentage points (ppt) from the May-July period. This is the highest since the SARS onslaught 18 years ago. Overall unemployment rate stayed at 6.1% over the same period.


Restructuring now inevitable, says Cathay Pacific Cathay Pacific Group warned that a restructuring is now inevitable in order to protect the company, its aviation hub in Hong Kong, and its employees, as the group continues to see its traffic figures drop dramatically on the back of reduced travel demand as well as restrictions and quarantine requirements in place globally.

FIRST openness to adopt some level of work-from-home arrangement on a long-term basis. In total, 70% of firms plan to increase investment in technologies to support seamless remote working. Another 27% indicated preferences for buildings with higher safety and well-being standards, whilst 21% will reconfigure their office space to allow for more social distancing.


The city’s quality of life has declined

Mental well-being has overtaken financial status as the most important factor affecting public wellness in Hong Kong, Macau and other Greater Bay Area (GBA) cities, according to the AXA Wellness Index 2020. Hong Kong is rated at 56 points out of 100, falling three points from last year, indicating the city’s quality of life has declined slightly in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s workplace stress also tops the region, with one in four workers saying that they are suffering from mental health iissues that are impacting their work. Only 27% of the city’s working class considered mental health support from employers was adequate, much higher than in Macau with 24%, and other GBA cities with 38%. Nearly 40% revealed having experienced the feeling of going to work as usual despite stress and mental health problems, or were not willing to discuss such problems with supervisors and employers due to the fear of affecting promotion. Meanwhile, four-fifths or 84% in Hong Kong experienced mid-high levels of stress in the past six months, compared to 81% in Macau and 67% in other Greater Bay Area cities, with work and education being the key sources of ongoing stress for 65% of those surveyed. When faced with stress, nearly 20% in Hong Kong would resort to negative or potentially self-harming actions such as drinking or smoking, whilst almost 10% would do nothing about it. Moreover, Hong Kong’s workers have additional woes regarding technology, with 35% believing that communication technology does not allow them to “shut down” from work. A further 26% also expressed worries that they may be replaced by technology, whilst another 22% felt sustained pressure from their techsavvier coworkers.



Less space needed Whilst the percentage of those indicating the size of their occupied space would remain unchanged over the next three years remained relatively unchanged, there was a sharp decrease in those firms previously considering expansions. It corresponded with a rising number of firms considering downsizing. The number of firms Commercial property sector faces rising empty spaces considering reducing their space in coming years jumped from 17% before the pandemic to 35% as of mid-year. Larger firms are the most likely to downsize, with 90% companies The near-term ong Kong’s commercial having more than 500 staff reporting impacts of property sector faces rising that they plan to reduce their office COVID-19 have empty spaces in the future space, the survey added. been undeniable as firms in the city anticipate smaller On the upsides, firms are likely space needs over the next three years, with many to stay in Hong Kong, with only 1% moving to a survey by Cushman & Wakefield considering moving out or relocating preserve capital outside the city. found” to “according to a Cushman & Wakefield survey. Overall, 85% of companies More than half of respondents indicated that the pandemic impacted (56%) have changed their leasing their businesses negatively. strategies as they shifted their focus The retail sector is amongst the on cost savings in an effort to save most pessimistic, with firms in the their bottom lines, noted Cushman & industry expecting recovery by H2 Wakefield’s study. 2021 at the earliest. Nearly a third of respondents, or In contrast, 43% of businesses 31%, said that they have put on hold overall expect recovery to occur on plans to either expand, relocate, or H1 2021; 13% in H2 this year; and refurbish their space—all suggesting 21% in H2 2021. Almost one in 10 a wait-and-see approach as any firms, or 9% of respondents, expect recovery remains uncertain. recovery to occur in 2022 onwards. However, it is evident that for “The near-term impacts of some firms the pandemic has taken a COVID-19 on businesses have bigger toll following a challenging H2 been undeniable as many have 2019, with around 20% planning to moved quickly to preserve capital. consolidate or surrender space. At the same time, however, it is The new view comes as the presenting opportunities for those pandemic spurred long-lasting with a longer-term view to reposition implications in the way companies their portfolios in anticipation of a work and how occupiers consider possible rebound next year,” said Reed their space needs. Majority of Hatcher, director, head of research, respondents (65%) expressed Cushman & Wakefield Hong Kong.

Hong Kong firms to downsize office spaces


FIRST Buyers from Mainland China are expected to serve as a pillar of demand in the real estate sector

Real estate investmemt volumes are expected to drop to a 10-year low in 2020

Home prices to drop by 10%


ome prices are expected to remain under pressure and conclude 2020 with an average drop of 10% amongst popular estates, according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield. Investment volumes are also expected to fall to a 10-year low as the pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties continue to weigh on client sentiment. Residential property transactions have dropped 6% in Q3 compared to the previous quarter in both primary and secondary sales markets.

However, volumes are 30% higher when compared with Q3 2019. Furthermore, prices of popular estates are expected to fall further in the near-term. Whilst this indicates that social and economic factors continue to impact the residential market, the unprecedented owner-occupier demand and anticipation of a postpandemic recovery can be strong stabilizers, said the report. “The secondary sales market has come under severe challenges from the pandemic blow. However, a recent

decline in new cases coupled with strong pent-up demand may support a rebound by the end of September 2020,” said Alva To, Cushman & Wakefield’s vice president & head of consulting, Greater China. “Nonetheless, from a more holistic perspective, we expect home prices to remain under pressure and likely to conclude the year with an average drop of 10%,” To added. Meanwhile, the investment market remained subdued in Q3 as buyers remained on the sidelines. Despite the fall in demand from local buyers, demand from PRC buyers remained relatively stable, resulting in their accounting for half of the deals concluded in the quarter. Amongst sectors, industrial was among the most active, supported by purchases of en-bloc building. On the other hand, investment into retail, one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, remained muted. “With demand for commercial property expected to remain weak in coming months, PRC buying activity should continue to serve as a stable pillar of demand even as many local and foreign buyers continue to take a wait-and-see approach,” said Tom Ko, Cushman & Wakefield’s executive director, capital markets in Hong Kong. “Nonetheless, based on current trends, both the number of transactions and investment volume in 2020 are expected to fall to a 10year low,” he added.

HKMA RELAXES MORTGAGE LOAN MEASURES ON NON-RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has said to have eased the measures for mortgage loans on non-residential properties as it adjusted the applicable loan-to-value ratio caps from 40% to 50% for general cases, according to a press release. “It is considered positive when it comes to boosting investment demand and should help to lift transaction volume,” said Marcos Chan, head of research of the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong at CBRE. “HKMA considers it appropriate to adjust the countercyclical macroprudential measures on non-residential properties,” said HKMA chief executive Eddie Yue. The HKMA also reiterated that its countercyclical macroprudential measures are intended to apply to mortgage loans for the purpose of financing property transactions or the refinancing of existing properties.

Lower loan-to-value caps will help to buoy demand for commercial real estate




On the lookout for high returns

Hong Kong investors see sustainable funds as attractive investments because of their likelihood to offer higher returns, according to a recent study from Schroders. Almost two in five or 39% of Hong Kong investors favoured sustainable funds because of the wider environmental impact, whilst another 29% said it was due to personal societal principles, according to a survey of 500 local investors by Schroders’ Global Investor Study. Investors believe that they can contribute to a more sustainable society through their investments, with 38% choosing to invest sustainable funds rather than those that do not consider sustainability factors. Access to information remains key in helping investors understand the sustainable impact of their investment. A total of 89% of respondents wanted more information to reassure them that their investments are sustainable, whether this is from solution providers’ self certification (36%), third-party endorsement of sustainable investments (31%), or regular updates from the investment providers (22%). Climate change was also found as one of the significant challenges in sustainable development, and respondents ranked themselves third in line (55%) as being responsible for mitigating climate change, behind national governments & regulators with 66%, and intergovernmental organisations like the United Nations with 62%. On the other hand, 54% of Hong Kong investors think investment managers should leverage the influence they have by withdrawing funds from these companies, as climate change can be costly and disruptive to people’s lives. In addition, investors revealed that they are currently reducing or recycling household waste (52%), buying locally produced goods that have lower carbon footprints (44%) and avoiding businesses with poor social responsibility track records (42%). 10


Financial services to focus on sustainability


ong Kong’s financial services sector has the moment to deliver a more sustainable and equitable recovery based on blooming trust with the public, according to an EY survey. The industry starts from an overall position of relative strength, with eight out of ten (81%) respondents saying that they trust or highly trust the industry. The overall positive perception from the public is driven by its “ability”, highlighting product and services competency, and its “dependability” in keeping business promises. On the other hand, its performance weakened in the “integrity” pillar, reflecting a need for more transparency in its transactions, as well as the “purpose” criteria which shows that it needs to do more to deliver positive results, the report noted. Competence - not innovation appears to be the primary strength of the sector, with banking service providers being held in high esteem for having a robust performance (56%). Whilst, virtual service providers are heralded for innovativeness, they must also address public notions on their performance (25%) to change its

Public trust of the financial services industry is on the rise

apparent “transactional-based” image. Insurance providers are believed to have a favorable position because of long-term relationships with clients, but only 25% of respondents perceive that they offer valuable advice. In addition, disclosure is seen as a weakness for both insurers and asset management service providers (27% and 23% of respondents, respectively). Moreover, only about one-third (32%) of respondents agree that banking service providers are doing enough to make a positive difference to society, especially around being vocal on social issues (22%) to build and maintain customer relationships. The provision of more environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies is becoming more vital, with the majority (98%) saying that they will adopt a “more disciplined and rigorous approach” in scrutinising firms’ non financial performance in this area.

Two-thirds in Hong Kong look for discounts each day Over 40% in Hong Kong who regularly search for consumer discounts do so at least once every day, with 31% sharing offers with friends and family more frequently since the pandemic, according to a Sun Life Hong Kong survey. Meanwhile, those who regularly search for investment and savings related information are less in comparison, with 21% stating that they are sharing discount information with their close friends and relatives more frequently since the pandemic began. Almost 40% of respondents anticipated around HK$10,000 to HK$30,000 in travel expenses for the year, with over half of those saying they will reallocate such expenses to reserve cash for emergency situations, as well as to support normal daily expenditures. In addition, 63% did not “revenge spend” in the past months, of which 27% were worried about the economic and employment outlook and wanted to keep more cash on hand. Around 40% said they took action to manage their finances due

Discount-searching became a pursuit for struggling HKers

to a worsening economy and concerns over layoffs and pay cuts. Respondents are also willing to reduce expenses on entertainment, clothing, beauty treatment, and hair cuts by an average of 35%, as well as their dating expenditures by an average of 30%. Two-fifths (43%) have also begun “trying hard” to plan for retirement, rising from 37% before the pandemic. Those that believe they are “trying very hard” have risen to 11%.


Lamborghini Urus—world’s first Super Sport Utility Vehicle The Urus elevates the SUV to a level not previously possible gravel or sand dunes, making it the ideal mode for off-road fun.

URUS’ four-wheel drive system delivers safe driving dynamics on every road and surface


utomobili Lamborghini has launched its third model the Lamborghini Urus and creates a new niche in the luxury segment with benchmarking power, performance and driving dynamics, unparalleled design, luxury, and daily usability. The Urus elevates the SUV to a level not previously possible, the Super SUV. “It is a true Lamborghini in terms of design, performance, driving dynamics and emotion as well as drivable every day in a range of environments,” said Stefano Domenicali, Automobili Lamborghini Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “It is the culmination of intensive development and passionate skill to create a new breed of bull—a Super SUV that transcends the boundaries of expectations and opens the door to new possibilities, for both our brand and our customers,” he added. The Urus features a 4.0 liter V8 twinturbo engine delivering 650 hp (478kW) at 6,000 rpm, maximum 6,800 rpm, and 850 Nm of maximum torque already at 2,250 rpm. With 162.7hp/l the Urus claims one of the highest specific power outputs in its class and the best weight-to-power ratio at 3.38kg/hp. The Urus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 12.8seconds and with a top speed of 305 km/h—the fastest SUV available.

Urus: a multi-faceted personality The Lamborghini Urus’ low-line coupé styling and commanding road position belie the very comfortable ride, higher ground clearance, and luxurious space within together with the latest technologies. The Urus provides easy driving in the city, maximum comfort during long journeys, thrilling super sports car dynamics on the road and track, and versatile off-road abilities in a range of environments. The Lamborghini Urus has a dual personality—it is multi-dimensional. It can be specified to be as sporty or as elegant as the owner wishes, and can equally be used as a daily luxury drive or provide an exhilarating super sports experience. The Lamborghini Urus four-wheel drive system delivers safe, highly-responsive driving dynamics on every road and surface. The Urus features active torque vectoring via a rear differential, enabling propulsive power to be instantly distributed to each individual wheel for enhanced traction. In the driving modes STRADA, TERRA (offroad), and NEVE (snow) torque vectoring reduces understeer for safe and simple driving, whilst SPORT and CORSA torque vectoring allows the Urus to become more agile with a greater oversteer character. In SABBIA (sand) mode, the system is calibrated to guarantee agility and precision on terrains with reduced grip such as on

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) The Lamborghini Urus ADAS systems provide a comprehensive level of safety, security and driving assistance on level 2 based on SAE scale. A high beam assistant automatically fades headlight sin and out of high beam mode as required, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control are also included as standard. Meanwhile, optional ADAS systems include traffic management systems, topview camera, and a trailer coupling mode. The Lamborghini Urus features keyless start via the push Start button on the center console, as long as the key is present. Access to the Urus is also granted by touching sensor panels in the doors and tailgate. Furthermore, personalization settings allow the car to be configured to suit different drivers and to switch easily between up to seven different programmable profiles including seat preferences and EGO driving mode styles, and even Infotainment presetting. In addition, the rear tailgate is electrically operated via a switch on the driver’s door, a button on the key or a manual button on the tailgate itself. An optional virtual pedal also allows the tailgate to be opened by a kick movement and can be customized by the driver. Easyload Assist, standard on the Urus, also allows the height at the rear of the Urus to be lowered for easy loading.

Its ADAS systems provide a comprehensive level of safety, security and driving assistance




Adcore reveals new space at theDesk, Sheung Wan The co-working space has modern features and a terrace for employees’ relaxation.


igital advertising technology company Adcore has opened up a new office in Hong Kong, amongst their other global offices in Tel Aviv, Israel; Melbourne, Australia; and Toronto, Canada. The new office is located in theDesk, a fresh coworking space at Bonham Strand that offers Adcore’s employees a terrace where they can socialize with other companies, different meeting and conference rooms which come in handy when they have external visitors, as well as a cozy kitchen. On top of that, the place is strategically located near public transport surrounded by coffee shops, a range of local and international restaurants, bars, as well as other amenities. “Regarding office spaces, we were considering whether to directly rent an office space or get a coworking space. In the end, we decided to go with the co-working space just because of the atmosphere and the innovation going around with all the different start-ups here,” said Gal Itkin, Adcore Greater China’s general manager in an interview with Hong Kong Business magazine. Adcore also had some of its employees in Israel relocate to Sheung Wan to open and register the business, including Itkin. The Hong Kong office also focuses on Chinese businesses that are looking to expand and sell their products and services globally. “This has been a big shift for the Adcore strategy, and what we’ve done to support that is we’ve further localized our product offerings. I would say that the main focus here is the type of clients and partners that we’re working with, as this office has some sort of a start-up environment, and we’re currently a small team as opposed to our other offices,” Itkin said. Adcore is looking to grow off strategic partnerships, as well as expand activity for its current and potential clients, such as introducing machine learning and automation in order to save time and increase the efficiency of online marketing. “We want to take that further and introduce effortless advertising, where the client can just focus on strategy and other things, and we will take care of all of the hassle and do the marketing for them. When it comes to technology, we are going towards a place where the user just puts in the goal that he wants to achieve and the technology will be able to do it themselves,” he said.



Adcore went with the coworking space because of its atmosphere and focus on innovation

Adcore staff can now work in a unique shared environment

A space for employees to meet and informally chat

An area for relaxation and socialising outdoors


Green Monday pushes for sustainable living across Asia

Providing a ‘Neat’ solution in international trading

David Rosa, Co-founder and CEO, Neat

Green Monday Group aims to encourage sustainable living


n a time when the world is facing climate change, food insecurity, public health issues, and population explosion,firm action is needed to avoid an eventual global catastrophe. This is the mission of the Green Monday Group, a multi-pronged, mission-driven venture that aims to shift the public towards sustainable living. It’s a movement, a new lifestyle, and mindset that has spread to more than 30 countries to date. Established in 2015, the group comprises of five distinct entitites. They are the investment arm which focuses on supporting the growth of like-minded entrepreneurs and startups globally. Green Monday Foundation, the nonprofit arm which advocates sustainable living through community initiatives. Green Monday Holdings, the operational arm under which OmniFoods and Green Common produce and distribute plant-based food products. OmniFoods is a food tech company that creates a range of alternative protein food products for both commercial and consumer markets, including OmniPork, OmniPork Luncheon, OmniPork Strip, and OmniEat. Meanwhile, Green Common is a onestop, plant-based platform that combines retail, distribution, and dining services in more than 10 markets. Treating the creation of a “flexitarian” population as the high priority, the Green Monday movement believes that people don’t need to be a full vegan. It will take sustainability education, trendy lifestyle

creation and product innovation to make change happen, and the group has already proven that in Hong Kong and in other parts of Asia. In Hong Kong alone, Green Monday has teamed up with over 1,800 restaurants to include plant-based options on their offerings. Institutions such as HSBC, Google, Sands, and MGM as well as celebrities have also joined in the movement. “We are extremely delighted to partner with investors like TPG and Swire and looking forward to work with more missionaligned partners who share the same goal to strive for genuine impact, channel their power to make further good to the world, and overcome the planet’s most imminent challenges,” Green Monday said in an interview with Hong Kong Business magazine. In the following months, Green Monday aims to expand its presence to more than 20 markets across Asia, EMEA, and North America. It also plans to increase point of sale operations to over 40,000 worldwide. Green Common flagship stores will also be launched in strategic locations in China in Singapore. As we continue to expand our distribution network across the region and globally, we are seeing a much better economy of scale in terms of ingredient sourcing, production, logistics, and partnerships. We will see continuous drop in cost and price in the upcoming 9-10 months,” the group added.

Frustrated with the state of IT systems in the traditional financial institutions, businessman David Rosa used his savings and decided to create a better and more accessible financial platform for entrepreneurs around the world. That platform is now called Neat. And Rosa is the CEO and co-founder. “The name came to me on a sleepless night, at 3:00 am. It resonated well as it was short; the relevant web domain was available and encapsulated the essence of what we wanted to bring to market,” Rosa told Hong Kong Business on why he chose Neat as the name of the company. The problems with international trading are the endless paperworks, bureaucracy, and long waiting. Rosa wanted Neat to be a solution to these problems. He said it would only take a short time to set up a Neat account that comes with various perks. An online incorporation takes about 15 minutes, guaranteed or you get your money back. With a Neat account, a company can now receive payments in USD, EUR, GBP, and HKD; make transfers to 35 countries at competitive foreign exchange rates; integrate with the Xero accounting software platform; and issue corporate expense cards to their employees. They make profit based on transfers and FX fees along with margins on interchange that the card payment network pays Neat for using their network. “One of our strengths as a company is our solid connection between Asia and Europe. We opened an office in London earlier this year and will continue to develop our team there. We’re also investing into business development resources for South East Asia. Combined with our multi-currency capabilities, this ultimately opens more doors for our customers to do business more smoothly in more places,” Rosa added. A Neat future Much more seems to be in store for neat as last April they’ve raised a total of US$15m in funding with investments led by the Pacific Century Group and other marquee investors like VISA and MassMutual Ventures. To date, they have a total of $155m (US$20m). With the recent fundings, Neat will utilise their new resources into further improving customer support experience and the launching of Neat Visa cards. “Neat is constantly working to expand its incorporation and account services to more countries. After opening our London office last year, our next step is to launch in Singapore. Our goal in the next 5 years is to be the #1 Fintech platform for import-export businesses worldwide,” said Rosa.



INTERVIEW We’ve made an effort to support our brands and merchants through this difficult period in a bid to turn the “danger” into “opportunity” for SMEs to prepare for the future.

Lynn Dong General Manager of Global Business Development Tmall Import and Export 14 HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020 Alibaba Group


How Alibaba is helping international merchants to break into the China market

The e-commerce giants have rolled out English-language customer-service and a self-service registration system in recent months.


ith people pushed to stay at home amidst the pandemic, e-commerce businesses have seen a significant surge in demand. Alibaba in particular saw a 43% YoY rise in orders for imported products in their Tmall Global platform, which is dedicated to overseas brands and retailers, during the 618 Mid-Year Shopping festival this year. However, facing this growing demand could prove challenging for merchants that are keen on diversifying beyond their home markets but are dealing with tight budgets and limited knowledge of the China market. Reaching out to these merchants, Tmall Global rolled out several initiatives involving the waiving or reduction of service fees, logistics costs and agency service fees, as well as an English-language customer-service and self-service registration system for brands. In an exclusive interview with Retail Asia, Alibaba’s general manager of global business development and key accounts for Tmall Import and Export, Lynn Dong discussed more about these initiatives, as well as some recent developments in China’s and Asia-Pacific’s e-commerce scene. Can you describe the trends in China’s and AsiaPacific’s e-commerce landscape for the past three to six months. What has changed in your operations since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged? The e-commerce landscape in China and Asia Pacific has definitely changed quite a bit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past six months or so, we have seen a boom in demand on Alibaba’s platforms for daily necessities such as groceries, and medical and personal hygiene supplies such as face masks and hand sanitisers. More recently, as Chinese people become more health-conscious as a result of the pandemic, many have also turned to e-commerce for a range of health-related products, from hula hoops to treadmills, gluten-free starches and health supplements. According to data from our recent 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival, imported goods were particularly in high demand in the Chinese market. During the sale, the total value of orders for imported products on Tmall Global settled through Alipay increased by 43% from last year, whilst the total value of imported products shipped through the [consignment solution] Tmall Overseas Fulfillment programme (TOF) tripled (199% growth). As many brands and merchants’ physical and offline sales have been affected during this period, digital commerce is set to play an increasingly important role in business recovery around the world post-COVID-19. We have made it our priority to onboard even more international brands and merchants to increase the diversity of our offerings, and provide these brands with an effective online channel to connect with consumers there.

What strategies have you adopted to respond to the resulting shift in consumer demand? As China and many other countries have experienced or continue to be in a state of lockdown, we observed more consumers turning to e-commerce as a substitute for their usual shopping at physical stores to buy daily necessities, medical and personal hygiene supplies, and other day-today needs. We have also seen a growing trend of “revenge buying” in recent months, as Chinese consumers indulge in spending sprees to make up for time lost in lockdown. We have redirected and redoubled our efforts accordingly to speed up our merchant recruitment and product sourcing processes, creating opportunities for more offline brands and merchants from around the world to go online and satisfy the demand we have seen. We also leveraged the recent 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival to create more accessibility to the China market for overseas brands and merchants. We brought together more than 25,000 overseas brands to take part in the sale, launching a total of more than 400,000 new products. We saw this as a strong opportunity to tap on China’s online consumption rebound to boost these global brands’ exposure and to catalyse their sales. What initiatives have you launched to reach out to businesses during the pandemic? What pain points are you trying to address? The pandemic has understandably affected supply chains and businesses’ ability to operate as per normal, and our brands and merchants have been visibly and similarly affected too. As a platform operator that strives to foster a healthy business environment, we’ve made an effort to support our brands and merchants through this difficult period in a bid to turn the “danger” brought about by the pandemic into “opportunity” for SMEs to prepare for the future through digital transformation. One of the measures is to speed up the onboarding process for the brands and merchants through Tmall Global’s brand-incubation programme announced in April this year. Under this programme, we rolled out an English-language customer-service and self-service registration system for brands, and a process to ensure new online storefronts will be operational within 30 days of registration. We also offer newly-joined brands and merchants incentives to hit preagreed targets, which motivates them to grow and flourish on our platform. We have also announced a comprehensive set of measures to support brands and merchants on Tmall Global during the COVID-19 outbreak. Among other measures, we have waived their platform service fee for the first half of this year, and reduced their other operating expenses such as logistics costs and agency service fees. HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020


INTERVIEW grow, such as the use of gamification and livestreaming in e-commerce shopping. During our 618 mid-year sale, sales of 1,700 different agricultural products doubled year-onyear through gamification engagements. Apart from pentup demand, Tmall also made its 3D shopping technology widely available to brands during 618, which helped the stores using the new feature attract five million visitors and quintupled their average conversion rates of consumers in just three days. These online avenues will only gain more interest in the future as we continue to reinvent digital technologies and digital retail penetration.

Alibaba Group’s corporate campus in Hangzhou, China

As a whole, Alibaba Group mobilised our various business units to lend help to businesses around the world through our Spring Thunder initiative, which capitalises on the expertise and know-how of the Alibaba ecosystem to enable SMEs to stay afloat. We also introduced a similar initiative in Singapore, known as the Sprout Up initiative, to support local exporters in their plans to reach the overseas market through our B2B platform Alibaba.com. How have these measures helped your merchants cope with the crisis? Here’s an example. The COVID-19 outbreak has stalled sales from offline retail channels for many overseas brands, pushing them into dire distress. Nevertheless, Korean SME cosmetics brand JungSaemMool continued to thrive on the Tmall Overseas Fulfillment (TOF) model despite the crisis. While offline duty-free shops and department stores were hit hard in South Korea, JungSaemMool, which opted into TOF via the programme’s Korean warehouse in April 2019, made up for the sales it lost in its home market through the 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival. The brand’s sales during the 618 campaign this year even grew 50 times compared with the same period last year. JungSaemMool has gained significant brand recognition among Chinese consumers after about a year of adopting the TOF model, and has recently expanded its collaboration with Tmall Global with the launch of its own flagship store on the platform–which signifies its official market entry in China. How do you see the e-commerce landscape shifting in China and Asia Pacific as a whole after COVID-19? The shift towards e-commerce is going to be the reality of retail, and not a trend. What the pandemic has done is to accelerate this journey, and give brands more confidence that online commerce is not only viable, but a viable sales channel that should complement their offline retail presence. Consumers at the same time are also gaining confidence in shopping online during the pandemic, especially given the convenience and sheer variety easily available through online retail. Diversification of online retail strategies will only seek to 16


Alibaba aims to bring 1,000 new international brands to China through its Tmall Global platform in the coming year.

What are your future plans? What’s in store for Alibaba? We want to continue our commitment and existing efforts in supporting businesses through the pandemic and beyond, and stay true to our mission—to make it easy to do business anywhere. SMEs are a vital part of any economy, and need help in navigating cross-border challenges and actually securing the opportunities available in other markets. During the past few months, our cross-border commerce units such as Tmall Global and Kaola have devised three new strategies to work towards helping them overcome this, and to meet the growing Chinese consumer demand for international products and brands. These strategies are to focus on new brands, new categories and new products. For brands without a physical presence in China, we have been working with them to set up a flagship store on Tmall Global, or leverage the TOF model which provides overseas brands and merchants the opportunity to test the Chinese market at a lower cost and risk. Another concept we have been working on is launching joint promotions with domestic and overseas influencers via Taobao Live. Especially in China, influencer-led engagement with shoppers is extremely effective but may not be a familiar mechanic with overseas brands, and we hope to help brands explore doing so. Our aim is to bring 1,000 new international brands to China through our Tmall Global platform in the coming year and support more brands and merchants during and beyond this pandemic. How do you see the digital retailing landscape at the moment? What trends have arisen as a result of current market conditions? We are starting to see business recovery take-off in recent months, as consumers in China have begun to spend more than before the early stage of the pandemic. We are determined to continue our focus on enlarging our product selections and offering brands more innovative tools and technologies to accelerate their digital transformations and empower them to forge deeper engagements with their customers. More importantly, we have seen that brands who took the opportunity to go all-in on digital and online platforms are emerging stronger. While the road to a post-pandemic recovery is challenging and long, we hope to provide SMEs around the world with learnings based on the experience of their successful counterparts in China, and help them regain their momentum.


Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD makes its official Hong Kong debut Its Rear-Wheel Drive puts the car in the driver’s hands changes, with launch control for maximum acceleration from a standing start, whilst the 19” Kari rims with specially developed Pirelli P Zero tires are fitted with ventilated and cross-drilled steel brakes. As an option 20” rims and carbo-ceramic brakes are available.

The Huracán EVO RWD, unveiled in a striking Blue Eleos, metallic blue paint


he new Huracán EVO Rear -Wheel Drive (RWD) makes its highly-anticipated debut in Hong Kong, putting the driver at the center of the driving experience, the driver in total control of sheer driving fun. Automobili Lamborghini announces the Huracán EVO RWD—a visceral driving machine, delivering 610 hp of power at 8,000 rpm, and 560 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm to a lightweight car with rear-wheel drive and dynamic steering. Weighing just 1,389 kg, the Huracán EVO RWD has a top speed of 325 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds. “We are delighted to officially launch the Huracán EVO Rear -Wheel Drive in Hong Kong. The Huracán EVO Rear-Wheel Drive puts the car in the driver’s hands—the driving experience is delivered by the hardware,”said Albert Wong, Director of Lamborghini Hong Kong. “The Huracán EVO RWD performance relies on the harmony between man and machine—driving skills and its mechanics— to deliver perfectly balanced dynamics, physical feedback, and pure performance.” He added that the Huracán EVO RWD enhances the V10 Huracán line -up with a model appealing to brand newcomers as well as those seeking sublime driving fun. Engineered for driving fun The Huracán EVO RWD, unveiled in a striking Blue Eleos (metallic blue) paint, has been

developed together with dedicated sportive leather in orange and black for the interior trim, matching the new exterior paint. The V10 engine delivers more than just power to the rear-wheel drive set-up. The new Performance Traction Control System (P-TCS) is calibrated specifically for the rear-wheel drive Huracán EVO, selected via the steering wheel’s Adaptive Network Intelligent Management (ANIMA) button. In Strada, the P-TCS minimizes rear wheel slippage to ensure stability and safety in all conditions, with a more proactive strategy P-TCS manages torque delivery on lowadhesion surfaces. In SPORT mode, the P-TCS maximizes the fun-to-drive experience. The rear wheels can slide and skate during acceleration, for easy drifting without compromising safety. The system recognizes conditions where the angle of oversteer increases rapidly and limits torque delivery to the rear wheels. In CORSA, the P-TCS is calibrated to achieve the rear-wheel slip that optimizes the car’s traction and agility when exiting a corner. The P-TCS improves smoothness of intervention by 30% compared to the previous Huracán RWD model. Furthermore, the electro-mechanical, servo-assisted Lamborghini Dynamic Steering (LDS) is tuned specifically for the Huracán EVO RWD, ensuring maximum feedback. The seven-speed dual clutch gearbox ensures the fastest gear

Fresh design for pure performance The Huracán EVO RWD continues the V10 Lamborghini’s powerful design with new front and rear features. It is characterized by a sculpted, purposeful person a, complemented by a new front splitter and vertical fins within the larger, framed front air intakes. The rear bumper in high gloss black incorporates a new diffuser unique to the Huracán EVO RWD. Inside, the cockpit features a HMI 8.4” touchscreen in the center console of the car controlling all aspects of the car’s functions as well as managing full connectivity such as telephone calls, internet access, and including Apple CarPlay. Both inside and out, Lamborhini’s Ad Personam program provides unsurpassed options for color and trim personalization, allowing owners of the Huracán EVO RWD to impose their individual style and personality on their new Lamborghini driving machine.

Its V10 engine delivers more than just power to the rear-wheel drive set-up




Togher Group to change clients’ perspective on global real estate investment Its investment arm aims to support clients throughout every stage of the investment process.

MayCor Developments specialises in investment opportunities within Ireland.


teve Togher first came to Hong Kong in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. He currently resides in Sai Kung along with his wife, Joanne and their two daughters. The family came from County Mayo in the North West of Ireland but are now well and truly immersed into Hong Kong life. In 2017, Steve established Togher Group and since has incorporated MayCor Developments Limited, a firm solely focused on supporting clients throughout every stage of the investment process, under Togher Group. MayCor is said to be a way for Steve to bring a slice of home to Hong Kong, with the company specialising in

Irish professionals choosing Hong Kong as a destination to further their careers. With Hong Kong being a multinational city, Togher’s companies alone employ people from Ireland, the UK and from APAC and SEA. A strong ethos of MayCor Developments is to change the way the people of Hong Kong view global real estate investment— especially in Europe. “We pride ourselves with offering guidance to our clients at every step of their investment journey, from our first meeting until long after the completion of purchase,” Steve added.

Life in a post-COVID world Like many businesses, life in a ‘postCOVID19’ world is expected to be challenging. However, Togher seems to think it’s not going to impact MayCor Developments in their goal to positively change and influence the way people of Hong Kong view global real estate investment. “Much like our investment mindset, we pride ourselves in sustainability and safe returns, although the pandemic has presented many challenges we as a business have been able to adapt quickly and actually feel that we can offer some unparalleled opportunities for our clients within the European investment space,” said Steve. He added that BREXIT alone has furthered Ireland’s position as the top destination for foreign direct investments (FDI) within Europe. In addition, the stability offered by multinational corporations and companies, as well as finance Leaders relocating their headquarters to Ireland has really positioned the nation well for the future. “We pride ourselves in remaining versatile within dynamic market conditions allowing us to represent our clients interests by capitalizing on our ability to adapt to the markets in both Asia and Europe,” he added. Togher believes that the trend is bright as they are able to provide choices to fit their clients’ needs, whether it may be a city

WE PRIDE OURSELVES WITH OFFERING GUIDANCE TO OUR CLIENTS AT EVERY STEP OF THEIR INVESTMENT JOURNEY investment opportunities within Ireland. “We are able to offer opportunities across Mainland Europe and having lived in the United Kingdom for 20 years we present opportunities across the UK but I must admit I take a real pride in building the relationship between Ireland and China,” said Steve. The relationship between Ireland and China is assisted by the high number of 18


The firm offers real estate investment opportunities across Mainland Europe


centre apartment or a large scale housing development. Furthermore, he believes that not only will the investment into real estate, such as new builds, will increase in the coming years, but also the speed at which Hong Kong will be able to recover from COVID-19, providing Hong Kongers a chance to experience above market yields with a considerably lower risk profile. High yield opportunities Despite tough times, MayCor Developments, along with the Togher Group, are still launching new projects and developments in Europe. With multiple economic developments coming in particularly within The Greater Bay Area, the Togher Group now have their eyes set on their expansion in Mainland China. “Every opportunity we represent is a reflection of who we are as a company and therefore our clients also,” said Steve. We work carefully with community stakeholders across all projects to ensure our client’s values are reflected and upheld whether

that be in regards to sustainable building practices or supporting local communities.” The company is also working with the government of Ireland and world renowned companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook in setting up leases to provide secure investments. The coming decade is expected to be an exciting time for both opportunity and growth between Europe and Asia, as the group plans to further expand its reach across the UK and Mainland Europe. The group aims to continue building these relationships not only with its Hong Kong based clientele, but also across the Greater Bay area and the other growing regions of China.


Steve Togher, Managing Director of Togher Group

Real estate investments to increase in the following years

The group ensures clients’ values are reflected on their projects

Togher Group is planning to expand in Mainland China.

MayCor Developments is still launching new projects across Europe




Meet Hong Kong’s first virtual-only bank The bank’s slogan of co-creation belies a strong charm offensive of attractive deposit rates.


he first half of 2020 saw the dawn of a new era of banking in Hong Kong, with the city’s virtualonly lenders kicking off operations. The recent lockdown resulting from precautions amidst the pandemic outbreak only further fueled digital banking takeup. In fact, a survey by the Finastra expects that almost a third or 28% of Hong Kong’s adult population will own a digital bank by 2025. For Finastra, whoever emerges on top will depend on which would be the quickest to establish operations in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong’s first virtual bank to launch, ZA Bank, has no plans to focus on cooperation rather than competition—point that is well-reflected in its slogan ‘“Be Different, Together.” “ZA Bank does not see other virtual banks as competitors. On the contrary, we hope to promote financial inclusion together with them, to foster the development and innovation of the banking industry,” Rockson Hsu, CEO of ZA Bank, told Hong Kong Business magazine. As every business man knows, it’s the silent competitor that often proves to be the most deadly, and ZA Bank has definitely launched a strong charm offensive. In January, the bank offered a competitive introductory rate of 6% for deposits capped at $200,000, over 3 percentage points more than established banks. Currently, ZA Bank offers a savings rate of 1% for a deposit value of up to $500,000, compared to the 0.001% general savings deposit rate. Hong Kong Business caught up with ZA Bank CEO Rockson Hsu to learn more about ZA Bank, it’s goals, and it’s outlook for Hong Kong’s virtual banks. Tell us more about ZA Bank. What have you been up to since you first launched? What are your thoughts on being one of Hong Kong’s first virtual-only banks? Unlike traditional banks, ZA Bank provides users with a full suite of services, 24/7. These services include efficient mobile banking facilities, such as remote account opening, multicurrency savings accounts, time deposits, local transfers, and e-statements ZA Bank does not have any physical branches. Users can enjoy convenient banking services without leaving their homes. Due to an efficient operating model and lower operating cost, we can provide attractive pricing to our customers. For example, savings products with attractive interest rates. Because of our commitment to financial inclusion, we do not impose a minimum savings balance requirement or maintenance charges. With its community-driven approach, ZA Bank has prioritised the rapid launch of its innovative



ZA Bank introduced Hong Kong’s first-ever “30 Minutes Pledge” for its loan service.

Rockson Hsu, CEO, ZA Bank

capabilities that align with customers’ changing lifestyles. In March 2019, a community known as ZA Fam was established by ZA International, in which members are invited to participate in ZA Bank’s product development and design processes, thus guiding ZA Bank to create innovative products and services to better serve the needs of Hong Kong users. Tell us more about your products and services. Who is your target customer base? What services does ZA Bank offer, or plan to? For individual customers, we provide savings deposits, time deposits, loans and transfers. We launched ZA Savings Go, a flagship savings product on 24 March. With ZA Savings Go, we offer a savings rate of 1% for deposit balances at $500,000 or below, whilst base interest rate will be applied to deposit balances exceeding $500,000 . Time deposits offer multicurrency deposits, including HKD, RMB and USD. Minimum time deposits start at just $1 and the range of tenors is flexible from one month to one year. We also introduced Hong Kong’s first-ever 30 Minutes Pledge for our loan service. From submitting the complete set of information and documents to receiving the application results, the whole process will be within 30 minutes. Should any applicant have to wait for more than 30 minutes, we will provide a cash rebate of $10 for every minute of overtime until the application result is provided to the applicant, with an upper limit of $500. There will also be a seven-day cooling-off period for ZA Personal Loan,

INTERVIEW without ever having to leave the house. Since the beginning of this year, we began to conduct risk assessments and prepare contingency plans to minimise the impact of the epidemic. Right after the Chinese New Year holiday, we asked all employees to work from home, even after the public holidays. At the same time, we already made a good deployment of hardware, so that every colleague can work remotely through the intranet and their laptops at home. ZA Bank operates as usual during the epidemic period, to provide customers with 24/7 banking services.

ZA Bank’s website interface

during which users may choose to repay early without incurring any early repayment charge. Regarding fund transfers, the Faster Payment System (FPS) offers round-the-clock instant fund transfers with no service fee. With just a mobile number, email or QR code, users can transfer HKD and RMB. The system also supports the “five seconds recall” in case users transfer into the wrong account. Users can also transfer USD to other local banks through “CHATS”. Can you give us an estimate of when you believe you will start making a profit? We have set a “Five-year Plan” for our future development, one of the targets is to break even within the period. As an important initiative of the fintech reform and innovation in Hong Kong, virtual banks aim to lower the entry barrier of banking services by fintech, to cover more people with different financial needs. We remain confident in the future development of virtual banks in Hong Kong. How has ZA Bank been received by the public so far? ZA Bank has been well received since our official launch on 24 March. A month after our official launch on 24 March, we published the data of our first batch of customers. Surprisingly, our youngest and oldest customers are 18-year-olds and 87-yearolds, respectively. As of the end of May this year, the oldest customer we have is 93 years old. This interesting data showcases that virtual banks could be an emerging service that brings innovative user experiences to different age groups. On the gender perspective, we found that the ratio of men to women is about two to one. Has the pandemic affected your operations, or led ZA Bank to reangle its strategies and goals? If so, how? As a virtual bank, ZA Bank has no physical branches and can open accounts and conduct transactions online. Therefore, pandemic or not, our users can always use the banking service on their phones,

ZA Bank’s goal is to make banking and financial services more user-friendly and support Hong Kong’s underserved population.

If possible, can you share with us your future projects and plans you have in store in the coming year? Currently, we are still focusing on the Hong Kong market. We are putting customers at the heart of our product design to solve their pain points and allow users to enjoy offerings that break the boundaries of time and conventions. One example of this is our full suite of 24/7 services, available in our one-stop mobile app. Our ultimate goal is to make banking and financial services more user-friendly and support Hong Kong’s underserved population, which will in turn accelerate fintech innovation in the city and, at the same time, encourage traditional banks to up their game in Hong Kong, which will ultimately benefit all of the city’s residents and consumers. What is your outlook on Hong Kong’s virtual banks for the next few years? Hong Kong’s fintech sector is growing fast. With the full launch of other virtual banks in Hong Kong this year, as well as traditional banks beginning to embrace AI and cloud technology, fintechs are set to disrupt the traditional model of financial services and blur the lines between different sectors. At the same time, traditional banks are expected to adopt more technology-based solutions to manage costs and resources, and achieve operational efficiency amidst a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive industry landscape. As we look to the financial industry’s future, one thing is certain: change will be the only constant. The broad themes we are predicting are around the changing nature of risk, a more competitive environment and increasing digital transformation, all underpinned by a focus on data. The development of virtual banks in Hong Kong will promote fintech application and innovation, enabling the expansion of banking services to people with different financial needs, to foster financial inclusion. This was also the original intention behind establishing ZA Bank. Meanwhile, traditional banks will speed up the innovation of services, which leads to industry transformation. The action will eventually benefit end-users and the market itself. HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020



Luxury deals ride the pandemic wave The volatility in the wider economy has been clearly visible in the luxury property sector throughout 2020


uxury home transactions have been scattered during 2020, with investor sentiment seemingly tied to changing levels of public confidence amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New research from Savills has found that total market activity in this sector has been on par with previous years, but that there have been pockets of concentration in certain months. Simon Smith, Senior Director for Savills in Asia Pacific, says there has been increasing interest away from new developments (to the secondary market), but the volatility is likely to continue into at least the fourth quarter of 2020. “While luxury sentiment remained jittery in Q3, the mass market was in a more buoyant mood with reviving interest in the secondary market partly due to lower down payment requirements,” he said. “Despite some bright spots, a bumpy ride looks likely to the end of this year.” The following excerpts are taken from the Market in Minutes report by

Savills Research, published in October, 2020. Luxury volume volatile despite mega deal being done Luxury volumes have been volatile over the past few months with the buoyant mood in July quickly dissipating due to a third wave of virus infections and heightened social tensions. Total luxury volume (HK$20 million +) surged to 282 in July, the highest in 2020, before falling back to 153 in August. The combined number of transactions for the two months (435) was still slightly ahead of the 419 transactions completed in April and May, though. The sale of 37 Shouson Hill Road in Southside for HK$2.5 billion to Hang Lung Properties was the most significant deal of the quarter, with the developer planning to redevelop the former US consular staff quarters into super luxury detached houses, targeting completion in 2024.

Finding that perfect room with a view is getting harder



282 luxury transactions were completed in July, compared with 153 in August as a third wave of virus infections hit Hong Kong

Elsewhere, two other house sites were sold to investors / individuals eyeing redevelopment, reflecting a firm appetite for developable sites at the top end of the market. Though market sentiment was mixed at best, luxury prices on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon declined marginally by 0.1% and 0.5% respectively in Q3, as only a handful of distressed assets changed hands. New Territories houses highlysought after The New Territories market, in particular houses, continued to attract buyers, given the appeal of low density living, ample outdoor space and the availability of parking, and luxury prices rebounded for a second consecutive quarter by 2.6% as a result. A quick comparison of average house prices by district reveals the substantial price differential between the Peak (with an indicative price range of HK$55,000 to HK$105,000

ANALYSIS: RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY per sqft) compared with Sai Kung (where typical average prices range from HK$11,800 to HK$17,500 per sqft), the latter less exclusive region almost one-fifth of the former. This phenomenon adds to the appeal of New Territories houses to potential buyers, especially for those who did not need to commute to the CBD frequently.

The proposed vacancy tax will likely prompt developers to speed up sales of luxury units

Mass market supported by secondary market rival The mass market was in a buoyant mood with reviving interest in the secondary market due partly to lower down payment requirements from Mortgage Insurance Programme. The secondary transaction volume totalled 25,327 over the first seven months in 2020, a 1.4% rebound from the same period last year. The primary market saw fewer transactions as developers held back project launches due to the uncertain environment, while some were more focused on clearing backlog units with more aggressive incentives. From 2016 to 2018, developers were aggressive in primary launches with the number of primary unit launches (averaging around 20,000 per annum) consistently higher than the number of units being sold (averaging around 17,000 per annum). 2019 saw this trend reverse for the first time and this remained the case over the first eight months of 2020 with only 6,500 primary units launched but more than 9,000 primary units sold, representing a change in launch strategies by developers over the past 18 months when market sentiment has become more subdued.

Luxury home transaction volumes tied to changing levels of public confidence

Market outlook The potential reintroduction of the vacancy tax could see further changes to primary launch strategies in the near future. Assuming the proposed vacancy tax to be effective from 2021 onwards, as many as 8,600 completed but not yet sold units would be subject to the 5% levy on sales price on an annual basis, which would most likely prompt developers to speed up sales of such units. Adding another 54,000 units under construction (construction which began in 2019 or before) but not yet sold or launched, the primary launch pipeline in 2021 could be substantial, in particularly given the cautious launch programmes witnessed this year. Looking ahead, the full impact of COVID-19 may be felt towards the end of the year if government tapers subsidies and we see more corporate layoff s pushing unemployment rates to new highs.

The unemployment rate currently stands at 6.1%. With uncertain economic prospects and a volatile stock market, residential volumes and prices may have to endure a bumpy ride to the end of this year. Luxury apartment prices on Hong Kong Island have fallen by 8.6% from their previous peak in Q2/2019 and are expected to slip by a further 3% to 5% towards the end of this year given the uncertain environment. Looking into 2021, with economic growth expected to remain weak, unemployment expected to hit new highs and developers likely to accelerate launches, luxury prices may come under further pressure, possibly declining by another 5% to 10%. Low interest rates and ample liquidity will provide some market support, however. Difficult variables to predict include the containment of COVID-19, future US-China relations, and the possibility of resurgent social tensions.

Luxury Transactions over $200m in Q3

Luxury Transaction Volumes, January to August 2020

Source: Savills research

Source: Savills research




Domestic demand powers a slight postpandemic rebound Hong Kongers have looked inwards to maintain commercial property prices and rates in 2020


t has been a difficult year for real estate in Hong Kong, but the latest research indicates a growing market and the return of optimism across the commercial and retail sectors. The latest market update from Savills shows there have been some important transactions in the later part of the year, even in spite of continuing commercial restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Simon Smith, Senior Director for Savills in Asia Pacific, says this the Covid-19 pandemic did have some significant impact in the early part of the year, and pushed back an expected recovery from last year’s weaker market. But the outlook going into 2021 remains positive for investors and real estate trusts. “The rebound in COVID cases has delayed the anticipated recovery in the commercial investment market, with the retail sector again bearing the brunt, though suburban retail

continued to perform well and attracted some investment interest,” he said. Other notable insights from the October report on office and retail investment include: • While interest rates were at record lows, banks’ prudent mortgage policies hindered potential investors, especially the cash-strapped, or those without a long-standing banking relationship, from re-entering real estate markets. • More end users were evident in the Grade A office market on Hong Kong Island but most were still looking for discounted stock, with only a few vendors facing financial difficulties willing to entertain offers. The Kowloon office market saw comparatively very few deals concluded with corporate solvency a major concern in the area.

Retail vacancy rates have are beginning to rebound in Hong Kong



The outlook going into 2021 remains positive for investors and real estate trusts

• While high-end retail continued to suffer, retailers in the F&B, mid-priced cosmetics, and health products segments have taken up prime street shops they could never have afforded a few years ago. The following excerpts are taken from the Market in Minutes report by Savills Research, published in October, 2020. En-bloc volumes rebound with both local and mainland investors returning En-bloc commercial volumes staged a modest rebound in Q3 with seven transactions registered totalling around HK$4 billion, as both local and Mainland investors returned for either high-yielding properties or older buildings with notable redevelopment potential. The most eye-catching deal was the sale of Peak Castle, a refurbished

ANALYSIS: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY office building in Cheung Sha Wan, by Hanison (a local company) and PAG (an investment fund) to a Mainland investor for HK$1.8 billion yielding around 3%. The shift to staycations and the rising numbers of local guests meant a rebound in hotel performance given the strict border controls: the latest hotel occupancy, though still hovering around 50% in July, was already sharply up from 30% in February / March, while the yearon-year decline in room rates also slowed from around 40% in March / April to around 22% in July. With hotel performance showing signs of stabilising, and with more landlords willing to offload their holdings, investors rediscovered their appetite for this segment with two boutique hotels sold over the quarter, one to a Mainland company and the other to a local investor.

Hotel performances have stabilised, thanks to rising numbers of local guests enjoying “staycations

Stratified commercial volumes rebound despite a worsening virus situation and more prudent bank mortgage policies Strata-title sentiment was again subdued with the third wave of COVID cases delaying the anticipated recovery in the economy as well as the commercial investment market. Despite the setbacks, commercial (office and retail) transaction volumes actually rebounded slightly in July and August (261 transactions, compared with 237 transactions registered from April to June), with more vendors willing to accept price reductions. While the US Fed announced its intention to keep interest rates at current levels in its latest FOMC Commercial Transaction Volumes by Price Range

Source: Savills research

These are fast times for Hong Kong’s office market

meeting, the recent relaxation of the commercial mortgage LTV from 40% to 50% by the HKMA was thought to be a major catalyst behind the revival of the commercial market. Nevertheless, even with higher LTVs, most banks took a prudent attitude towards commercial mortgage lending, mainly reflecting their conservative valuations, which were usually 10% to 30% below proposed transaction prices, thereby eliminating any potential upside from the new policy. As such, cashstrapped investors, or those without a long-standing banking relationship, were hindered from re-entering the commercial market even in an era of ultra-low interest rates. North Point office premises attract interest More end users were evident in the Grade A office market on Hong Kong island but most were still looking for discounted stock, with the few vendors facing financial difficulties prepared to entertain offers. Examples include a mid-floor unit in Shun Tak Centre which sold for HK$20,500 per sqft, and another low-floor unit in Bank of America Tower sold for HK$27,000 per sqft, both hitting their respective recent lows. Another deal involving a share transfer between JV partners saw a portion of a mid-floor in The Center selling for HK$27,000 per sq ft. Interest in Island East offices gathered pace with an improving business environment and discounted pricing compared to other business districts on Hong Kong Island. Two whole floors in SUP Tower in North

Point were sold for HK$12,000 and HK$13,000 per sqft to two end users, market levels in the area but some 30% lower than, for example, Grade B offices in Wanchai: a high floor in Sun’s Group Building in Wanchai was sold for HK$133 million to an investor (average price of around HK$18,000 per sqft). The Kowloon office market saw very few deals concluded with corporate solvency becoming a major concern in the area. With many retail operators residing across the harbour, Kowloon East in particular, the abysmal retail performance saw many of them closing shops and shedding staff , thereby reducing their demand for office space. With vacancy in the area rising gradually from 5.1% in Q2/2018 to 10.9% in Q3/2020, and with over 2 million sqft net of new office supply coming on stream over the next three years, many investors remained on the side lines with rental returns looking set to diminish further. Suburban retail gaining in popularity While high-end retail continued to suffer, retailers in the F&B, mid-priced cosmetics and health products segments have taken prime street shops on Kai Chiu Road in Causeway Bay, Wellington Street in Central and Haiphong Road in TsimShaTsui. These were deals they could not have afforded a few years ago, but were made possible in recent months by core retail landlords slashing their asking rents by as much as 50%. HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020



The new Rolls-Royce Ghost—perfection in simplicity This is said to be the most technologically advanced motor car Rolls-Royce has ever produced yet

The new marque is said to be the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet


n 2009, Rolls-Royce announced a new addition to its portfolio that offered something entirely different to its flagship, Phantom. “The first Goodwood Ghost was a response to a whole new generation of clients, both in age and attitude. These users asked us for a slightly smaller, less ostentatious means to own a Rolls-Royce,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

IT IS A MOTOR CAR PRECISELY TAILORED TO ITS CLIENTS, APPEARING TO BE PERFECT IN ITS SIMPLICITY, MAKING IT LESS BUT BETTER Over its ten-year lifespan, Ghost has become the most successful model in the marque’s 116-year history. However, in order to create a new product that would resonate with its clients for the next ten years, Rolls-Royce has set new standards in customer centricity by creating a completely new motor car for a unique group of its clients—business leaders and entrepreneurs—who require a new type of super-luxury saloon that is dynamic, serenely comfortable, and perfect in its 26


minimalism. The only components that Rolls-Royce carried over from the first Goodwood Ghost were the Spirit of Ecstasy and umbrellas. Everything else was designed, crafted and engineered from the ground up. The result is the most technologically advanced Rolls-Royce yet, which distils the pillars of the brand into a beautiful, minimalist, yet highly complex product that is perfectly in harmony with the clients’ needs and perfectly in tune with the times. It is a motor car precisely tailored to its clients, appearing to be perfect in its simplicity that makes it less but better. Proprietary aluminium space frame architecture The spaceframe’s flexibility and scalability freed the marque to serve the unique aesthetic and mechanical demands of the new Ghost. In its most pared back form, the RollsRoyce architecture is based around four fixed points, one at each corner of the motor car. The moveable aluminium bulkhead, floor, crossmembers, and sill panels were positioned specifically to ensure that the new Ghost meets client expectations as a motor car that is equally enjoyable to drive as it is to be driven in. Two of the cast suspension mounting assemblies were pushed to the very front, placing its 6.75-litre V12 behind the front

axle to achieve an optimum 50/50 weight distribution. Significant changes were also made to the double-skinned bulkhead and floor structure packaging to incorporate an all-wheel drivetrain, all-wheel steering, and completely redesigned Planar Suspension System. Further capitalising on the marque’s aluminium expertise, its metal superstructure is also 100% made of the material. The car’s outer body is rendered as one clean, expansive piece, flowing seamlessly from the A-pillar, over the roof and backwards to the rear of the car, recalling the seemingly one-piece coachbuilt Silver Dawn and Silver Cloud models. In addition, 100% aluminium, laserwelded doors were used, which not only offers weight benefits and remarkable 40,000Nm/deg stiffness, but also provide a lower acoustic impedance than steel, thus improving cabin ambience. Planar Suspension System The marque’s hallmark Magic Carpet Ride has also evolved for the new Ghost, with engineering specialists redesigning the motor car’s suspension to deliver what is called the Planar Suspension System. Created through physical engineering developments, as well as sophisticated scanning and software technology, the system incorporates a world-first Upper Wishbone Damper unit above the front suspension assembly, for an even more stable and effortless ride. This works alongside the Flagbearer system, which uses cameras to read the road ahead and prepare the suspension system for any changes in road surface, as well as the marque’s Satellite Aided Transmission. Moreover, the five-link rear axle benefits from the same self-levelling high-volume air suspension technology, governing its chassis technologies, including the all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, stability control and self-drying braking systems, to ensure the motor car is reacting as one to changes in surfaces or grip levels, whilst also maintaining a spirited, dynamic personality. The Planar software also manages information that requires new Ghost to


new Micro-Environment Purification System (MEPS). Highly sensitive impurity detection sensors were introduced to detect ambient air quality, automatically switching fresh air intakes to recirculation

The Illuminated Fascia brings an ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate into the interior suite of the motor car.

proactively adapt to intrusions in the road ahead. The first of these technologies is the marque’s Flagbearer system, which consists of a stereo camera system integrated in the windscreen, adjusting suspension proactively rather than reactively up to 100km/h. The second is Rolls-Royce’s Satellite Aided Transmission system, which draws GPS data to pre-select the optimum gear for upcoming corners. The result is unprecedented levels of ride comfort and control for a motor car. Illuminated Fascia For the new Ghost, the marque’s Bespoke Collective of designers, engineers, and craftspeople created Illuminated Fascia—a world-first innovation that subtly echoes the Starlight Headliner, which has become as much a part of Rolls-Royce iconography as the Spirit of Ecstasy, Pantheon Grille and ‘Double R’ monogram. Developed over the course of two years, this remarkable piece brings an ethereal glowing Ghost nameplate into the interior suite of the motor car. Located on the passenger side of the dashboard, the constellation and wordmark are completely invisible when the interior lights are not in operation. Perfectly attuned to the new Ghost’s post opulent design treatment, the Bespoke Collective embarked on creating a highly complex and true luxury innovation. The illumination itself comes from 152 LEDs mounted above and beneath the fascia, each meticulously colour matched to the cabin’s clock and instrument dial lighting. To ensure the Ghost wordmark is lit evenly, a 2mm-thick light guide is used, featuring more than 90,000 laser-etched dots across the surface. This not only disperses the light evenly but creates a twinkling effect as the eye moves across

the fascia, echoing the subtle sparkle of the Starlight Headliner. Extensive engineering work was also undertaken to ensure the Illuminated Fascia remains completely invisible whilst not operational. The most technologically advanced RollsRoyce The new Ghost is perfect in its simplicity, but creating it was said to be one of the greatest challenges in the marque’s history. Indeed, the new Ghost is the most technologically advanced motor car Rolls-Royce has ever produced yet. The marque’s engineers elected to further develop its hallmark technology of selfclosing doors so clients can now also open the doors with power assistance. The new Ghost also benefits from a

THE NEW GHOST IS PERFECT IN ITS SIMPLICITY, BUT CREATING IT WAS SAID TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES IN THE MARQUE’S HISTORY mode if unacceptable levels of airborne contaminants are present. This channels all cabin air through a nanofleece filter, which is capable of removing nearly all ultrafine particles from Rolls-Royce’s microenvironment in less than two minutes. Furthermore, it includes LED and laser headlights with more than 600m of illuminated range, vision assist, including day-and night-time wildlife and pedestrian warning; alertness assistant; a fourcamera system with panoramic view, all-round visibility and helicopter view; active cruise control; collision warning; cross-traffic warning; lane departure and lane change warning; an industry-leading 7x3 high-resolution head-up display; Wi-Fi hotspot; self-park; and the very latest navigation and entertainment systems.

The world’s first Planar suspension system significantly increases agility and effortlessness




Aria: A Contemporary Expression of Authentic Italian Cuisine Its executive chef Andrea Zamboni brings 20 years of experience to Aria’s kitchen

Aria offers a unique modern twist to family-style Italian cuisine


nspired by the beauty of opera and the show-stopping flavours of artisanal produce, Aria brings a contemporary rendition of authentic Italian cuisine to the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. Accompanied by panoramic views of the city from its 24th-floor perch atop California Tower, this gastronomic symphony is conducted with finesse and élan by executive chef Andrea Zamboni, who brings 20 years of Michelin-rated restaurant experience to Aria’s open kitchen. Showcasing seasonal ingredients flown in weekly from sought-after producers in Italy and around the world, Aria offers a unique modern twist to family-style Italian cuisine, elevating traditional classics and secret family recipes through high-quality ingredients and innovative culinary accents from all over the world. The Chef and his Culinary Philosophy Despite being born and raised at Bergamo in northern Italy, Chef Andrea spent the early part of his career working in the country’s central and southern regions. This is evidenced by the strong influence of Mediterranean cuisine on his cooking. “My cooking is a representation of my life experiences,” says Chef Andrea, who speaks fluent Mandarin from his time on the mainland. “At its heart, it is proudly and authentically Italian, but it is infused with the flavours, techniques and inspirations



from all the places I have visited and people I’ve met to create food that is both satisfyingly familiar yet truly global,” he added. Renowned for his meticulous attention to detail, the chef’s gastronomic style also draws strongly from the enviable line-up of virtuoso chefs he has worked with over the years, both in Italy and in Asia, including cooking alongside Michelin two-starred chef Oliver Glowig at the Capri Palace Hotel in Napoli and Michelin one-starred chef Luca Marchini at the Ristorante L’Erba del Are in Modena, as well as stints at three-Michelinstarred restaurants da Vittorio in Bergamo and Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong. Chef Andrea’s greatest inspiration, however, is the legendary Gualtiero Marchesi – widely regarded as the father of modern Italian cuisine and the first chef in the country to receive three Michelin stars – who he had the opportunity to learn from at the Ristorante Teatro alla Scala il Marchesino in Milan. Indeed, the late master chef’s motto, “Leading by example is the highest form of teaching”, can be seen written in Italian on the tiles of Aria’s show kitchen. The Food Featuring classic family recipes and seasonal specialities enhanced by Chef Andrea’s inimitable style, Aria’s menu showcases exquisitely presented meats,

jet-fresh seafood and masterfully executed pizzas and pastas elevated by premium produce from specialist suppliers in Italy and around the world. Many of the ingredients that Chef Andrea uses to create his inventive flavour combinations can’t be found elsewhere in Hong Kong. Among the highlights are Tagliatelle with Zarda Spicy Tomato Sauce, Blue Lobster and Bagna-cauda Fondue for $268, Foie Gras e Scampi, Traditional Baked Eggplant Parmigiana with Basil, Parmesan Cheese and Fior di Latte priced at $148, Italian Milk-fed Veal Cutlet Milanese Style with Tomatoes, Celery Relish and Sicilian Lemon which can be bought for $428, and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Apulian Burrata and Basil valued at $108. In addition to the à la carte menu, Chef Andrea gives full rein to his culinary creativity through Aria’s exclusive chef’s table, where he delights guests with an omakase-style menu of his favourite offmenu dishes that changes weekly based on seasonal ingredients flown in from around the world. For $2,000 and an additional service charge per person, Chef Andrea will keep his specialties coming until guests can’t eat anymore. Aria also provides a unique Italian wine cellar, focusing on rare Italian wines by the glass, whilst maintaining a number of both new and old world wines. Some examples of such rare wines by the glass are Refosco, made with a very rare ancient nutty grape and an Aria top seller. Another rare wine by the glass is, Nireddu, a very light bodied Scilian wine with beautiful tannins whose vineyard is 900 metres above sea level. Aria’s team are as passionate about the wines as the food and will gladly recommend the perfect drop to complement Chef Andrea’s wonderful kitchen creations. LKF Chef Kits For times when guests want to bring the Aria experience home, Chef Andrea has created chef kits that combine everything you need to cook up your favourites at home, whether for yourself or your family. As with all of LKFE’s restaurants, Aria wants people to enjoy the best quality Italian food at reasonable pricing. The new


ready-to-make food kits include stepby-step instructions and all the essential ingredients, sauces, condiments and spices, so that every budding chef can create the perfect Italian meal at home, including dishes such as: A Taste of Italy Eggplant Parmigiana, for two persons worth $338; An Italian Journey Open Ravioli for one person priced at $228; and Fantasy Millefoglie for one person valued at $198. To celebrate the launch of the Chef Kits, guests can also enjoy 30% off for the time being when they visit the restaurant. Interiors and Aria Lounge Aria draws its design inspiration from the interiors of classic opera houses and features an eclectic collection of furniture that recalls family heirlooms that have been passed down through the ages by different owners. It also boasts a stunning outdoor terrace where guests can enjoy cigars, cocktails and

digestifs, as well as an extensive wine list featuring over 150 bottles from Italy and around the world, including many that can be enjoyed by the glass over jaw-dropping views of the city. The terrace also features panoramic views of the city from the 24th floor of California Tower in the heart of Central. Once social distancing restrictions are lifted, Aria will be transforming into a lively lounge after dinner service on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with a DJ spinning classic tracks from the 80s and 90s until 2am.


Scampi with Foie Gras

Italian Milk-fed Veal Cutlet Milanese Style

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Apulian Burrata

Rigatoni Alla Carbonara with Guanciale and Pecorino Romano




Find out who won at the 2nd Technology Excellence Awards

Hang Seng Bank Limited E-Commerce - Banking Enterprise Software - Banking


Kin Shun Information Technology (Hong Kong) Limited Online Services - Logistics

he most outstanding companies in Hong Kong were recognised at the second HKB Technology Excellence Awards held digitally throughout the month of September. The Technology Excellence Awards honoured enterprises that have remarkably contributed to transforming industries through technology. For the first time, the awards were handed via visual presentation to the winners due to the pandemic. Winning companies were also interviewed virtually to share their thoughts on winning in the prestigious awards programme. This year’s nominations were judged by an elite panel of judges consisting of Gilles Alexandre Salansy, Partner, Accounting and Outsourcing at Mazars Hong Kong; Jason Yau, Partner, Technology and Management Consulting at RSM Hong Kong; Douglas Kwan, Partner, Assurance and Advisory Services at SHINEWING (HK) CPA Limited; Steve Lo, Partner and Asia-Pacific Chief Innovation Officer at Ernst & Young; and Loretta Fong, Partner and Telecommunications Leader at PwC Hong Kong. This year’s Hong Kong Business Technology Excellence Awards would not have been possible without our supporting partners: FinTech Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong E-Commerce Supply Chain Association, Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Association, Hong Kong O2O E-Commerce Federation (HKOEF), and Hong Kong Internet & Ecommerce Association. Congratulations to the winners!

HKB Technology Excellence Awards 2020: Airport Authority Hong Kong Robotics - Transportation AXA Investment Managers Asia Limited AI - Financial Services Datasite Fintech - Mergers & Acquisitions Digital Transaction Limited Blockchain - Computer Software ESIX LIMITED Network and Broadband - Telecommunications FIL Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited Digital - Financial Services Mobile - Financial Services

High Performance Code and Data Lab Cloud - Startup InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong E-Commerce - Hospitality & Leisure KBQuest Hong Kong Limited Digital - IT Services

McDonald’s Hong Kong Digital - Food & Beverage Philip Morris Asia Limited Publisher’s Choice Award for Research & Development Consumer Products (Durables) PURESSENCE BIO-TECH (HONG KONG) LIMITED Biotechnology - Biotechnology PVH Corp Digital - Retail Software - Apparel Quality HealthCare Mobile - Health Products & Services Rentokil Initial Hong Kong Devices - Environmental Services Shure Asia Limited Devices - Business Services Sino Innovation Laboratory Limited Property Technology - Real Estate The Great Eagle Company, Limited AI - Real Estate Digital - Real Estate thyssenkrupp Elevator (HK) Ltd Infrastructure Technology - Manufacturing TransUnion Limited Fintech - Banking UMP Healthcare Holdings Limited Digital - Health Products & Services United Asia Finance Limited Fintech - Financial Services UROS HK Limited IoT - Utilities Vastcom Technology Limited Automation- Hospitality & Leisure Xtep International Holdings Limited Clothing Technology - Sports YesStyle.com Limited E-Commerce - Retail Rentokil Initial Hong Kong Devices - Environmental Services

Fulfillment Bridge Limited E-Commerce - Logistics

Shure Asia Limited Devices - Business Services

GUERLAIN (ASIA PACIFIC) LIMITED Digital - Beauty & Cosmetics

Sino Innovation Laboratory Limited Property Technology - Real Estate



McDonalds Hong Kong

PVH Corp


Fidelity International


Hang Seng Bank Limited

Digital Transaction Limited

Quality HealthCare

The Great Eagle Company, Limited

UROS HK Limited

thyssenkrupp Elevator (HK) Ltd

TransUnion Limited

UMP Healthcare Holdings Limited

Vastcom Technology Limited


United Asia Finance Limited


Philip Morris Asia Limited

YesStyle.com Limited HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020



Hang Seng Bank leading the financial industry with its customer service innovations Its digital banking solutions makes clients’ business management easier and more efficient.

in securities, property management, education, insurance, and logistics industries. By making breakthroughs in operation modes, the Cash Management Solution using API can help enhance customer experience and satisfaction.

Hang Seng Bank Limited’s Head of Commercial Banking, Donald Lam


ith the technology scene fastdeveloping in the financial services industry, Hang Seng Bank proved to be one of the pioneers in providing tailormade solutions for its clients. Its recent projects Foreign Exchange Order Watch (FXOW) and Hang Seng Corporate API solution has also been recognised, receiving both the E-commerce - Banking and Enterprise Software - Banking trophies, respectively at the recently concluded HKB Technology Excellence Awards 2020. FXOW to make FX transactions hassle-free Hang Seng’s foreign exchange platform FXOW helps users execute foreign exchange transactions in a convenient and carefree manner. It is accessible to users via the Hang Seng Business’ e-Banking and mobile app. The platform provides 24-hour real-time cross-currency monitoring and the ability to set-up automatic currency conversion instructions between pairs of nine different major currencies. FXOW has two main functions—Target Limit Order and Rate Alert— which allows customers to set up target limit order to trade FX at designated exchange rate and to monitor FX exchange rate through a notification delivered to customers once the targeted rate is reached. “The function is extremely useful for business owners who need to pay for the



goods imported from other countries, enabling them to control the costs of goods with their desired exchange rate being set,” said Donald Lam, head of commercial banking at Hang Seng Bank Limited.

OUR PROACTIVE APPROACH AND FAST RESPONSE HAS HELPED SEE CUSTOMERS THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT PERIOD Corporate API solution for real-time payment collection Meanwhile, Hang Seng Corporate API solution is a real-time payment collection solution that facilitates advanced system connections between a customer’s Enterprise Resource Planning system and Hang Seng’s back-end system. At its launch, it was the first corporate API solution providing fully automated 24x7 real-time payment collection for commercial banking customers. Operating as a new channel, the solution supports improved cash management and includes a real-time Direct Debit Instruction (DDI) service. The solution is particularly suitable for businesses which involve bulk payments, receipts, and real-time transfers in their daily operations such as companies

Hang Seng’s comprehensive digital banking services – get your business going during the pandemic Hang Seng’s goal is to simplify the way that customers manage their finances. Through continued investment in enhancing its digital capabilities, the bank has been able to provide seamless services to customers during the pandemic. Hang Seng Business e-Banking has provided an option for business owners to handle their banking without stepping out the door. “Our proactive approach and fast response has helped see customers through this difficult period,” said Lam. Hang Seng fully supports the Special 100% Loan Guarantee under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme (SFGS). To simplify the application process for business owners, Hang Seng launched the first-in-market online application for SFGS. This makes the application one step easier for owners to get the funds during this difficult time. Maintaining normal operation in face of the pandemic could prove challenging. To ensure charity, organisations or online shops can collect payments or donations as usual, an alternative payment solution making use of QR code to receive inward transfers remotely via Hang Seng “Faster Payment System” is launched. Shoppers and donors can pay with just one scan. Furthermore, to enable customer’s flexible use of their funds, Hang Seng’s ‘OneClick Time Deposit’ offers a simple solution for customers to set up time deposits with customised interest rates online with just a single click. It is Hang Seng’s continued effort to provide a secure, reliable and convenient online banking experience to its customers that has made banking easy for its clients, especially during these trying times. To borrow or not to borrow? Borrow only if you can repay!


Keith Chan, chief financial and technology officer of McDonald’s Hong Kong

McDonald’s wins at HKB TEA This global brand is transforming the quick service restaurant industry with its seamless omni-channel platform.


cDonald’s Hong Kong has received the trophy for Digital - Food & Beverage at the recently concluded HKB Technology Excellence Awards, presented by Hong Kong Business magazine. Enhanced customer experience is key to staying ahead in the competitive restaurant industry. For McDonald’s Hong Kong, an exceptional customer experience can be best achieved through the use of an omnichannel digital platform which caters to its tech-savvy clients.

MCDONALD’S HONG KONG IS COMMITTED TO OFFERING CUSTOMERS A BETTER DINING EXPERIENCE AND BRAND NEW SERVICE CONCEPT McDonald’s omni-channel platform allows it to connect and engage with customers on a new level. For instance, its new mobile app allows users to record their favourite food, making it the first app in Asia to have such a feature. The app also shows the nutritional value of different orders and lets customers indicate special requirements, such as requesting less sauce or less ice. The McDonald’s App also enables customers to choose their food before arriving at the restaurant to save queuing



time. Orders are prepared only upon customers’ arrival at the restaurants, ensuring food quality and freshness. This provides a vastly improved customer convenience, especially during the rush hour. The brand’s digital push is not limited to producing a streamlined mobile app. McDonald’s also provides Engagement Kiosks and a digital menu board for a hasslefree and personalised dining experience. The Engagement Kiosks at its restaurants provide a stress-free environment for customers to choose their food at their own pace. At the back end, McDonald’s has also adopted cloud technology for social customer relationship management using data analytics and big data to provide personalised service for every customer. “McDonald’s Hong Kong is committed to offering customers a better dining experience and brand new service concept

McDonald’s mobile app

to its restaurants,” notes Keith Chan, chief financial and technology officer of McDonald’s Hong Kong. “The use of digital technology such as Engagement Kiosks, McDonald’s App, MyVoice App, Digital Menu Board and the Cloud CRM system together with Data Analytics enable McDonald’s Hong Kong to provide an extraordinarily convenient and personalized experience to customers. We connect with our customers on new levels with greater menu offerings and better customer services, whether they visit our restaurants or order through McDelivery,” he adds. McDonald’s omnichannel push links up information from different business units of the brand in a near real-time fashion. This is crucial because collaboration among business units and the suitable use of technology are critical for a successful customer experience. This increased mobile accessibility provides greater flexibility, empowering every information user in the company to make faster and more holistic decisions for their daily tasks in a fastpaced environment. “A seamless integration of people, process and technology is needed to deliver an omni-experience for customers in the ever-changing market landscape. The feedback from customers tells us they appreciate the omni-experience that we provide, which further encourages us to excel and go beyond their expectations as we move forward,” Chan says. McDonald’s success is affirmed by strong customer response. The McD App quickly ranked within top 3 in App store after the launch of the app to public. The number of monthly active users is increasing progressively, and the overall customer satisfaction score has doubled since the launch of Omni-Experience in Hong Kong. The restaurants’ sales also achieved significant uplifts continuously since launch.

McDonald’s HK Team

PVH Corp. is leader in digital innovations to enhance consumer experience in retail industry The direct transition of new acquisitions on to digital platforms and the increase of a digital presence in brick and mortar stores advance the digital user experience.

PVH Corp. is one of the world’s most admired fashion and lifestyle companies in the world. We power brands that drive fashion forward – for good. Our brand portfolio includes the iconic CALVIN KLEIN, TOMMY HILFIGER, Van Heusen, IZOD, ARROW, Warner’s, Olga and Geoffrey Beene brands, as well as the digital-centric True&Co. intimates brand. The Power of PVH connects all key initiatives across businesses, functions and regions, showing we are strongest when we all come together. We invest in and evolve how we operate, adding areas of expertise that drive consumer engagement, while developing our talented and skilled workforce. Our most recent Annual Report in 2019 outlines PVH as a global company with $9.9 billion in revenue and 40,000 associates. In an ever-changing retail landscape, PVH is a leader in digital innovation, transformation and utilization. Our ongoing journey to digitize our end-toend value chain has provided us with a strong foundation and the tools to successfully navigate and thrive in today’s ‘new normal.’ The implementation of SAP S/4 Fashion software and the Unified Commerce for China Project are just two examples of how PVH continues to maximize the opportunities that technology offers us. When PVH reacquired from Dickson Concepts (International) Limited the license for the Tommy Hilfiger brand in its Central and South East Asia markets, the business was added to the deployment schedule for the



Global SAP Central Finance and SAP S/4 Fashion implementation already in play. Consisting of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Macau and Malaysia, the acquisition required migrating the business onto the new global SAP S/4 Fashion platform, in addition to rolling out a new Point of Sale System, 3PL Warehousing system, Workday HR, enhanced network connectivity across stores & offices, and new infrastructure, all within a span of 12 months. The integration of SAP S/4 Fashion, the industry’s most advanced digital commercial and finance platform, across our wholesale, retail, finance, and supply chain, was a multi-year journey. The software furthered our strategy to integrate all commercial operations across our brands and markets, creating a single commercial and financial platform. It was a priority to reduce unnecessary disruption by transitioning the Dickson Tommy Hilfiger license business directly onto this new platform. Given the challenges of first a regional travel ban due to the Hong Kong protests, and then the global COVID-19 outbreak, much of the transition, from training to cutover, was conducted virtually across continents and time zones. As of early June 2020, in an industry first, PVH successfully completed the acquisition of the Dickson licensing business and the completion of all cutover activities all in a virtual work environment. The goal of the Unified Commerce for China project aimed to improve customer in-store experiences by increasing our

digital presence in brick and mortar stores and ultimately, to increase sales. Piloted in select Tommy Hilfiger China and Calvin Klein Hong Kong locations, this innovation allowed stores to accommodate consumer requests by using digital elements that provided visibility of inventory in other stores. When an item was out of stock or not sold in-store, this initiative provided customers with avenues to order products and have them delivered directly to their homes or picked up at a nearby store. There is now inventory visibility across all stores that gives customers the opportunity to purchase products that are out of stock, and have their order fulfilled from other stores via couriers. The technology will continue to roll out to stores through 2020 and has shown to provide incremental sales increase based on customer touch counts. Findings indicate the average touch per store is 60, where 25% is believed to have been converted to sales, and average customer stay-in-store time increased by three minutes.




Delivering a Smoke-free Future Through Science and Technology Philip Morris International is making a revolutionary change by developing smoke-free products. as a modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) which is appropriate for the promotion of public health. The FDA report concluded that PMI’s heated tobacco product heats tobacco but does not burn it, and scientific studies have shown that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system significantly reduces his/her body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.

Philip Morris Asia Limited (PMAL), the Hong Kong Affiliate of PMI


ome people may think Philip Morris International (PMI) is only a cigarette company, but it is more than that. PMI is undergoing a fundamental transformation into a science and technology led company. By focusing its resources on developing, scientifically substantiating, and responsibly commercialising smoke-free products that are better alternatives for adult smokers who choose to continue smoking, PMI is aiming to deliver a smoke-free future without

THE CORE OF OUR TRANSFORMATION TODAY IS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, WHICH WE BELIEVE CAN ULTIMATELY END CIGARETTE SMOKING. cigarettes. The company has disrupted its business from the inside out, and is leading the industry with this unprecedented transformation. PMI’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its commitment to achieving a smoke-free future in the letter to its shareholders earlier this year. Why is PMI making such a bold change? Because it’s the right thing to do. There’s an estimated one billion-plus smokers in the world according to the World Health Organization, and quitting is the best choice they can make. But for those adult smokers 38


who don’t quit, we want to provide them with smoke-free alternatives. For this large population of adult smokers, advances in science and technology have enabled the development of smoke-free alternatives that can be a better alternative than cigarettes. Investment in R&D “Science and technology are at the core of our transformation today. It’s a no-brainer for our company – the future is about science-based, new technologies that we believe can ultimately end cigarette smoking. To date, we’ve invested over US$7.2b on R&D to develop science-backed smokefree alternatives to continued smoking, underpinned by a rigorous scientific assessment program, and led by more than 430 world-class scientists and engineers,” said Brett Cooper, General Manager of Philip Morris Asia Limited (PMAL), the Hong Kong Affiliate of PMI. PMI has invested over US$10m to establish its Electronics Hub (E-Hub) in Hong Kong in 2018, which serves as the global hub for new product introduction, development, industrialisation, and distribution to markets worldwide. The science around combustible smoking has shown that it is the harmful chemicals generated from burning that are the primary cause of harm, not nicotine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorised PMI’s heated tobacco product, IQOS, to be marketed in the U.S.

The importance of science Robust science underpins everything in this transformation. Having transparent information and science-based conversation with industries, regulators, scientists, and the public health community is the best way to make these products available to adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, while minimising unintended use, such as by non-smokers and youth. It’s also essential to provide accurate information to consumers about the relative risks of these products versus continued smoking. Ultimately, adult smokers need to have the opportunity to understand the benefits of switching to better alternatives. Science has clearly never been more important than it is today. People increasingly rely on science for their day-to-day decisions, and they expect to have access to science and facts. The more prominence and access we give to science, the more we enable people to make informed choices based on facts. We can only make breakthrough progress if we remain curious and are willing to change our mind in the face of new evidence.

Brett Cooper, General Manager of Philip Morris Asia Limited (PMAL)

Fidelity MPF Tax Deductible Voluntary Contributions (TVC) Apply for TVC via SmartRetire Pay less tax and save more wisely The Fidelity SmartRetire mobile app makes setting up your TVC account easier and quicker. Upon successful application, you can save up to HK$10,2001 on contributions yearly. Download SmartRetire now to set up your TVC account or make additional TVC contributions!

3 key benefits of managing TVC via the SmartRetire mobile app Streamlined and convenient process The entire online application process can be completed in 15 minutes! Best yet, you can conveniently make contributions by selecting various payment methods including Faster Payment System for instant online payment.

Debut launch of remote identity verification capability The identity verification process no longer has to be done face-to-face2. You can now complete the required identity verification anytime, anywhere with our mobile app.

Change or make additional contributions to your TVC account anytime You can make additional lump sum/monthly contributions or change your current monthly contributions to your TVC accounts easily.

Download the SmartRetire mobile app today Fidelity.com.hk/TVC 1


The actual tax savings depend on personal income level, entitled tax allowances and deductions as well as the amounts of qualifying deferred annuity policy premiums paid or the amounts of TVC made. Based on the prevailing highest tax rate (i.e. 17%) and the maximum tax deductible limit of HK$60,000, the maximum tax savings can be HK$10,200. Applicable to HK permanent identity cardholders only.

FIL Limited and its subsidiaries are commonly referred to as Fidelity or Fidelity International. Fidelity, Fidelity International, the Fidelity International logo and F symbol are trademarks of FIL Limited. Investment involves risks. Fidelity only gives information about its products and services. Any person considering an investment should seek independent advice on the suitability or otherwise of the particular investment. The third party marks appearing in this material are the property of the respective owners and not by Fidelity. This material is issued by FIL Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited and it has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission. 40




“#1 Blockchain in the world for Performance and Usability” (Arthur D. Little, 2020)

Blockchain - Computer Software Digital Transaction Limited

www.digital-transaction.com HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020



GUERLAIN Research focuses on the exceptional repairing properties of honey

Abeille royale’s decade of repair technology from bees Its skincare line has consistently proven its effectiveness in addressing principle signs of skin aging.

Abeille royale’s 10 years of innovation and commitment From studies on how bee products can repair skin, to its well-packaged, sensorial, amber-coloured expert formulas, the Abeille Royale skincare line has constantly proven its effectiveness for 10 years. This is all thanks to its approach that pairs transparency across all production channels, as well as a commitment to the protection of biodiversity and the creation of a beautiful and sustainable world.

ABEILLE ROYALE DEMONSTRATES THAT LUXURY, EFFICIENCY, AND SUSTAINABILITY CAN ALL GO HAND IN HAND Through its formulas, ingredients, research studies, and commitments, Abeille Royale demonstrates one beautiful fact— that luxury, efficiency, and sustainability can all go hand in hand. This virtuous circle implemented by the GUERLAIN House explains Abeille Royale’s international success. A decade of scientific innovation For 10 years, GUERLAIN Research has focused on the exceptional repairing properties of honey and the science behind 42


the skin repair mechanisms that help combat the principle signs of aging, such as wrinkles and skinsagging. This experimental work has inspired GUERLAIN Research headed by Dr. Frédéric Bonté, Director of GUERLAIN’s Scientific Research, who is working with tissue repair specialist Professor Alexis Desmoulière, Professor of Physiology in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Limoges. They observed that scar healing, wrinkle repair, and the process for improving skin firmness share the set of mechanisms, leading to a major discovery. By combining these findings and their areas of expertise, GUERLAIN Research has proven the precise way how honey works can repair skin. Result-driven from the start, the technology behind Abeille Royale’s range—of which the first generation targets the micro-tears behind wrinkles and skin sagging—have evolved over the years. Applying Professor Descottes’ 25 years of experience, GUERLAIN Research is now decoding the mechanisms at work within the exceptional healing power of honey. Blackbee’s repair technology GUERLAIN Research continues to study the secrets and mysteries behind bee products, analyse their benefits, classify their particularities, and identify which of its qualities are pure enough to be suited to the skin’s needs. It pinpoints the three criteria

that make for uniquely effective honey—a rich, diverse well-preserved ecosystem, pure environmentalconditions, and bee genetics. This huge task has led the GUERLAIN team to specific ecosystems, including a one-ofa-kind “treasure island” where an especially pure honey boasting an array of exceptional properties can be found. Living on Ouessant Island, a protected ecosystem and UNESCO classified Biosphere Reserve off the Brittany coast, is a protected native blackbee. This small and stocky bee produces a pure, remarkably high-quality honey that is rich in amino acid and oligo-elements. In order to preserve this rare and unique species of bee, GUERLAIN has also become patron of the Brittany Black Bee Conservation Association, the organisation spearheading the development and protection of the House’s emblematic insect. Ten years of expertise in youthful skin Complete with a beautiful honey scent and colour, each Abeille Royale skincare product offers an exclusive skincare experience to its users. Complete with inimitable formulas, whose uncompromising effectiveness results from GUERLAIN Research’s expert levels of knowledge in their own way, each product improves the look of the skin from the first application. The new abeille royale youth repair ritual Complete with inimitable formulas, whose uncomprThe Abeille Royale Fortifying Lotion with royal jelly has been especially formulated to work alongside the Abeille Royale Youth Watery Oil and Double R Renew and Repair Serum. Designed to be the first product in the Abeille Royale Youth Repair Ritual, it serves up all the fortifying strength of royal jelly, readying the skin before applying the Youth Watery Oil to plump it. By infusing the skin with the powerful repairing properties of honey and GUERLAIN-exclusive royal jelly, this oil’s revolutionary formula instantly replumps the skin from the inside. The Double R Renew and Repair Serum, with its exclusive dual technology for peeling and lifting effect, refines, firms, and brightens the skin. By creating the ideal kick-start to an entire youth repair ritual, GUERLAIN Research has brought together the full power of the hive’s natural products that have been especially selected for their ability to combat skin aging, such as wrinkles and skin sagging.


Quality HealthCare shapes healthcare delivery for the new normal

With innovation in focus, Quality HealthCare launched digitised services to support healthcare needs

Elaine Chu, General Manager of Quality HealthCare


uality HealthCare’s rapid expansion into digital healthcare is accelerating its innovative mix of online-to-offline solutions, tailored to the healthcare needs of today. The private healthcare service celebrates over 150 years in Hong Kong, serving the community through a network of 120+ medical centres which provide full range, clinical standard holistic health and medical care from prevention to treatment and conditioning.

“WE ARE MOVING ON A MODERN HEALTHCARE JOURNEY WITH OUR CUSTOMERS, EMPOWERING THEM TO MANAGE THEIR HEALTH HOLISTICALLY THROUGH OUR DIGITAL HEALTHCARE DELIVERY.” “The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the need for healthcare to evolve with the times and provide customers with more relevant, convenient and safer services. Quality HealthCare stays ahead of the curve as we continue to embrace greater digitisation in all aspects of healthcare delivery,” said Elaine Chu, General Manager of Quality HealthCare. Recognising Quality HealthCare’s efforts in advancing new digital solutions, the

healthcare specialist was amongst the award recipients at the HKB Technology Excellence Awards 2020, winning the top prize in the Mobile – Health Products and Services category. Fast-changing healthcare needs At the heart of Quality HealthCare’s digital offerings is the brand-new QHMS app, a one-stop mobile platform for a wide selection of its comprehensive digitised services. The mobile app, fully enhanced in August 2020, was launched with an aim to make healthcare easier and safer for people to access, without compromising on quality, efficiency and reliability of services. “Safety has become one of the top considerations amongst Hong Kong people when opting for medical services, especially against the backdrop of COVID-19,” said Chu. “We have found that more patients prefer to avoid physically visiting hospitals and clinics due to concerns about possible clustering and cross-infection.” The responsibility has now fallen on healthcare providers to adapt their services and delivery to meet the increased expectations from customers—from ensuring safer access to medical care to shorter waiting times and more personal and holistic services. Redefining digital healthcare Innovation has been key for Quality HealthCare in catering to the growing needs

of Hong Kong people. “With the QHMS mobile app, we reinforce our commitment to enhancing customer experiences through healthcare technology and providing services that not only care for our customers’ physical health, but their mental wellbeing as well,” added Chu. The platform features e-Ticketing for General Practitioner consultations and notifications for medication pick-up after consultations, as well as e-Booking for all other medical services, making healthcare more accessible. With the aim to empower people to proactively take care of their health, the app provides personalised health information and tips from healthcare professionals in the Quality HealthCare network, and a 24-hour eShop with a variety of healthcare products and services available at your fingertips. Breaking new ground in healthcare delivery is QHMS ’s in-app video consultation services, which enable people to enjoy high quality medical support and door-to-door medication delivery from the comforts of their home, reducing the need for nonessential clinic visits. Also available on the app are virtual workshops focused on holistic health and wellness, with more comprehensive and customised features to be released over the next few months. The “new normal” of healthcare delivery With the enhancement of digitalised services, Quality HealthCare is changing the way healthcare is conceptualised and delivered in Hong Kong, whilst maintaining high clinical standards and growing its network of trustworthy medical professionals. The mobile app has already recorded over 77,000 members, facilitating more than 202,000 e-Tickets. It has also seen over 80,000 eShop visits within a month. “Whilst the ‘New Normal’ may have brought a great deal of local uncertainty surrounding health, we look at it as an opportunity to see what more we can do to enhance our services to best address the current environment from preventive care to medical needs. We are continually exploring new ways to support the community, both offline and online, and expand our role as a trusted healthcare partner for people in Hong Kong,” said Chu. HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020








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Hong Kong Business recognises outstanding companies in 2020


espite the pandemic and political turmoil in Hong Kong, many multinational corporations and homegrown firms were still able to grow their businesses and expand in the Asian market. In an effort to recognise companies that have made significant contributions to the regional economy, Hong Kong Business magazine hailed the most exceptional firms in the International Business Awards (IBA), Listed Companies Awards (LCA), and National Business Awards (NBA) held virtually from 10 September to 11 September. The sixth installment of International Business Awards honoured the most remarkable foreign companies that have contributed significantly to Hong Kong’s resilient economy, whilst the National Business Awards hailed the finest homegrown businesses on its fourth edition. HKB also recognised exceptional publicly listed firms that contributed to Hong Kong’s economy on the relaunch of Listed Companies Awards. For the first time, the awards were handed by Hong Kong Business’ Managing Editor Paul Howell via digital award presentations due to the pandemic. Winning companies were also interviewed throughout to share their thoughts on winning in the most prestigious awards for companies in Hong Kong. The panel of judges for this year’s awards include Eugene Liu, Managing Partner at RSM Hong Kong; Charbon Lo, Director at Crowe (HK) CPA Limited; Andy Wong, IPO Leader at SHINEWING (HK) CPA Limited; Anthony Tam, Executive Director at Mazars Hong Kong; and Edward Au, Managing Partner at Deloitte China

National Business Awards 2020 Nexstgo Company Limited Electronics Odyssey Group Limited Financial Services AsiaPay Financial Technology Trakitall Ltd Health Products & Services

Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong Holdings

Below is a list of all the winning companies. Congratulations!

International Business Awards 2020 Omnicom Media Group Advertising Euler Hermes Asia Pacific Business Insurance


Baxter Healthcare LTD Health Products & Services BRALOBA GROUP Manufacturing AstraZeneca Hong Kong Limited Pharmaceuticals

Listed Companies Awards 2020 Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Limited Telecommunications Franco Raffa, TrakitAll 54


AstraZeneca Hong Kong Limited

Gwenael Meneux, AstraZeneca Hong Kong Limited

Baxter Healthcare

Gary Wong, Baxter Healthcare

Braloba Group

Thomas Schori, Braloba Group

Omnicom Media Group

Deric Wong, Omnicom Media Group




Ready for recycling: Two #tide employees are sorting ocean-bound plastic in Ranong, Thailand.

Fishing for plastic

#tide transforms plastic waste into a sustainable raw material – Braloba Group’s subsidiary presents a circular solution to the plastic world


f you’re familiar with the watch Industry you might have heard of Braloba Group. The Swiss company belongs to the world’s leading manufacturers of watch straps and accessories with a strong bond to Asia, due to its factories in China, Thailand, and Myanmar, as well as its distribution hub in Hong Kong. Three years ago, Braloba’s Co-Owner Thomas Schori was asked by a client if he could produce a watch strap made of ocean plastic. An intriguing idea, never done before. Why? Because ocean plastic waste has been difficult to recycle due to the

high-quality plastic granules”, Schori says. “This raw material can be used for new hard plastic products such as watches, furniture or electronic devices.” When Braloba Group found out how to fix the broken molecular chains without adding any chemicals, the company was ready for a new spin-off: #tide ocean material. Due to increasing demands from the fashion industry, the Group launched this subsidiary

to create a label of its own. #tide ocean material stands for quality granules and yarns – and for a circular economy: The supply chain reaches from the islands in the Andaman Sea to China: Thai fishermen are being paid for collecting plastic waste along coastlines and on uncontrolled landfills, chinese factories are using #tide ocean material for new products. Giving waste a value is one of the keys to #tide’s success. Be it granules for injection, yarn for textile or filament for 3D printing: #tide ocean material matches the challenging needs of the industry. «Many manufacturers are looking for sustainable materials because they want to contribute to a better climate, cleaner oceans and add an inspiring story to their useful products. We’re happy to make their wishes come true and present them our eco-friendly solution», Thomas Schori says. Still in its first operational year, #tide ocean material has processed 150 tons of plastic waste—and was awarded with the Manufacturing Award during the HKB International Business Awards 2020 for its innovative approach. “Winning the Hong Kong Business Award is a wonderful honor”, Forest Lo, Director of Braloba HK, adds. “Asia is an important hub for our Group and its diverse products—be it watch straps or ocean-bound plastic granules.” www.tide.earth

WE’RE HAPPY TO MAKE THEIR WISHES COME TRUE AND PRESENT THEM OUR ECO-FRIENDLY SOLUTION damage caused by UV rays and salt water. Facing the growing issue of plastic pollution, the world is in desperate need of a solution. Every minute, a truck load of plastics ends up in our oceans. Being a true innovative entrepreneur, Thomas Schori connected with renowned scientists of Switzerland’s University of Applied Sciences. Together, they initiated project studies and came up with the solution of a mechanical upcycling process. “Together, we developed a method to turn plastic collected from the ocean into



Thomas Schori (Co-Owner Braloba Group, Founder #tide)

Forest Lo (Director Braloba HK)

Waste is beautiful

We transform 100% ocean-bound plastic waste into premium textile yarn. See how we do it: www.tide.earth a member of Braloba Group HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020


1931 Introduced commercial production of IV solutions

Saving and Sustaining Lives

1956 Introduced commercially built kidney dialysis machine

1978 Introduced peritoneal dialysis as home-based therapy for kidney failure

1998 First fibrin sealant approved by FDA for use in surgery

Today In 100+ countries around the world. In the hospital, clinic, and home. In the moments that matter most.

Every day, Baxter touches the lives of millions of patients and providers worldwide who rely on our essential hospital and renal products and services. You’ll find Baxter’s products and therapies on nearly every floor, in almost every hospital worldwide, in clinics and in the home. Baxter’s employees are building upon the company’s rich heritage of medical breakthroughs to advance the next generation of healthcare innovations that enable patient care. Our commitment to our mission means we are there when patients and healthcare professionals need us, during the critical moments that matter most.

baxter.com Baxter is a registered trademark of Baxter International Inc.










Check out the winners of the firstever China Business Awards


he most outstanding international firms and exceptional technology companies were recognised at the inaugural China International Business Awards and Technology Excellence Awards held virtually throughout the month of September. The China Technology Excellence Awards honoured enterprises that have remarkably contributed to transforming industries through technology, whilst the China International Business Awards lauded global companies that have found a solid foothold in China. The trophies were handed to the winning companies via digital presentations done by Hong Kong Business’ Managing Editor, Paul Howell. Winners were also interviewed virtually to share their thoughts on winning in the prestigious awards programme. Nominees for the China International Business Awards were judged by Jens Ewert, MNC Affairs Lead Partner in China at Deloitte China; Ben Huang, National Head of International Business at Grant Thornton China; and Mark Gilbraith, China Consulting, Consumer, Health and Technology Industry Leader at PwC China. China Technology Excellence Awards nominations were also judged by an elite panel of judges consisting of Steve Lo, Partner and Asia-Pacific Chief Innovation Officer at Ernst & Young; Frank Li, Technology Industry Leader at Deloitte China; and Wilson Chow, Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader at PwC. The winners are as follows:

China International Business Awards 2020:

China Technology Excellence Awards 2020: Datasite Fintech - Financial Services Home Credit Digital - Financial Services J.D.Power Enterprise Management (Shanghai) Co., Ltd Digital - Consulting LinkedIn China Online Services - Internet/New Media Mictronics Company Limited Infrastructure Technology - Building Services & Facilities

Cityneon Holdings

Tricor China


BI WORLDWIDE Consulting BIODERMA Cosmetics Cityneon Holdings Entertainment Experience Explorium (Shanghai) Trading Co., Ltd Logistics

Home Credit

Johnson Controls Food Manufacturing Solutions Mazarine Asia Pacific Luxury Retail Tricor China Business Services LinkedIn China 62



LinkedIn’s Economic Graph—a digital representation of the global economy It can understand complex dynamics of the global economy and help people connect to opportunities.

Yanping Wang, General Manager, Public Affairs, LinkedIn China


inkedIn’s Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy. Through massive data generated from 706 million members, 50 million companies, more than 11 million open jobs, 90k educational institutions and 36k skills listed, it is able to measure and understand complex dynamics of the global economy and help people connect to economic opportunity in new ways.

ECONOMIC GRAPH INSIGHTS HELP POLICY COMMUNITIES TO KEEP TRACK OF THE LATEST ECONOMIC SITUATION Economic Graph has developed many mature methodologies, including hiring rate, skills, migration, gender gap, and regional research. The Skills Genome is a measure of the unique set of skills, providing a framework to describe the entities such as occupations/titles, industries, fields of study, and regions. LinkedIn’s Economic Graph is also partnering with governments and organisations to leverage these insights to enhance global access to talents and opportunities. Economic Graph has maintained stable cooperation with the

World Economic Forum (WEF), providing support in data and methodology for several forward-looking reports. We also collaborated with the World Bank to codevelop an open data dashboard, which makes real-time insight into the labor market and skill development trend. Since Economic Graph came to China in 2017, we have launched many insightful reports, including Report on the Digital Economy and Talents in the Yangtze River Delta Region (YRD), Digital Economy and Talent Development in the GuangdongHong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), Digital Transformation of Chinese Industries (DTI), Innovative Cities and City Clusters in the Digital Economy Era (CCI). The projects were reported by many national-level mainstream media such as Xinhua News Agency, Global Times, and also international media. Report on the Digital Economy and Talents in the Yangtze River Delta Region (YRD) analysed the characteristics of talent as well as the rise of digital skills across the YRD region. According to the findings, the YRD region is in the leading position of digital economy across China in terms of both scale and growth rate, and it is playing a pivoting role in China digital economy development. Workers with digital skills are coming to the region at 1.35 times the rates they are leaving it and ICT and manufacturing have the highest degree of digitisation. Besides,

Shanghai attracts more junior-level talent and exports more senior-level talent, indicating it plays an important role in training and developing talent. Report on the Digital Economy and Talent Development in the Guangdong-Hong KongMacao Greater Bay Area (GBA) sought the best model for talent concentration and flows by analysing the talent characteristics of the GBA and its core cities. Generally speaking, the GBA has an overall net inflow of talents, which shows greater appeal than Beijing and is on par with Shanghai. To be more specific, Guangzhou is the most balanced city. Shenzhen has the greatest talent advantage in ICT. Hong Kong’s advantage is finance, education and business services. Macao has a very high concentration of digital talents in tourism and vacation. Digital Transformation of Chinese Industries (DTI) studies the degree of digitisation and regional characteristics of different sectors by analysing the industry and urban distribution, and urban mobility of digital talent. On this basis, the report analyses the flow of digital talent between different industries, especially between ICT and traditional industries, so as to gain insights into the potential for digitisation between different sectors. Innovative Cities and City Clusters in the Digital Economy Era (CCI) analyses the representativeness of digital skills across 26 cities in 11 worldwide city clusters under the digital era, and the representativeness of skills is measured both by popularity and uniqueness. The report confirms that in overall, the proportion of digital talent in non-ICT industries is higher than that in ICT industries. In the 11 city clusters of this research, city clusters with digital talent in tech skills and disruptive tech skills include: Boston-Washington city cluster, SF Bay Area, UK-Ireland city cluster, Sydney Bay Area and Bangalore. Economic Graph insights help many policy communities to keep track of the latest economic situation. LinkedIn believes that understanding of today is the first step in building a better tomorrow and Economic Graph empowers us to do so. Economic Graph will expand EG’s key partnerships with thought leaders in China. HONG KONG BUSINESS | DECEMBER 2020



Tricor Group expands mainland China footprint by leveraging investment opportunities The group was commended at China International Business Awards 2020 for its ‘One Tricor’ initiative

(from left to right) Hailiang Zhang, CEO, Tricor Mainland China; Lennard Yong, Group CEO, Tricor Group; Michael Gong, CEO, Tricor Richful


ince 2018, Tricor Group has embarked on a dedicated growth strategy in mainland China that focuses on driving growth and enhancing its capabilities. With more growth on the horizon, Tricor aims to be the leading corporate solution provider in mainland China, servicing both inbound and outbound investment activities.

WE ARE COMMITTED TO HELPING FOREIGN COMPANIES EXPAND INTO CHINA, AS WELL AS WORKING WITH CHINESE COMPANIES AS THEY SCALE OPERATIONS ACROSS ASIA AND BEYOND As a testament to its success, Tricor recently earned the prize in the Business Services category of the China International Business Awards 2020, presented by Hong Kong Business magazine. “It’s a great honor for us to win the award. As Asia’s leading business expansion specialist, we always believe in the value of a seamless solution to our customers and we have continuously been enhancing our service offering portfolio to help unlock our customers’ value, especially in the current dynamic and uncertain business environment,” said Lennard Yong, Group 64


CEO, Tricor Group. Operating in some of the world’s most vibrant markets, Tricor aims to remain agile and innovative in order to stay competitive and at the forefront of change—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging economic development plans China has been consistently driving national economic development initiatives that foster both FDI and ODI, namely the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Greater Bay Area (GBA), Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and CIIE. These projects are showing fruitful economic benefits and are greatly enhancing crossborder trade cooperation. Tricor is always equipped with indepth industry expertise, up-to-date understanding of local laws and regulations, as well as a thriving network of global, regional, and local relationships. These capabilities help clients simplify operations whilst ensuring efficiency and compliance. Tricor in China has also been closely cooperating with government authorities and associations to provide specialised assistance for global MNCs seeking entry into mainland China, as well as domestic companies seeking to grow internationally across Asia and beyond. Cross-border synergy is key to its vision Even though Tricor is a global company, the firm embraces a unified vision of nurturing

cross-border synergies and helping clients tap new opportunities for growth. “China remains a top priority for Tricor Group. As regional economic development plans continue to advance, China will strengthen its role as a hub for global business development activities,” added Yong. “We are fully committed to helping foreign companies scale and expand into China, as well as working with Chinese companies as they look to set up, build and scale operations across Asia and beyond.” Tricor’s recent strategic acquisitions of Richful Deyong and Alphalink underscore the firm’s focus on building cross-border synergies. “Not only can Tricor China continue to provide high-quality services to foreign businesses entering the Chinese market, it can now also fully support Chinese businesses looking to expand their businesses in Asia and beyond,” said Hailiang Zhang, CEO of Tricor China. Digital transformation Tricor embarked on a company-wide digital transformation strategy starting in 2019. In particular, the firm has been using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to completely revolutionise back-end processes, enabling faster and more efficient outcomes. Tricor also launched a new operating model for its shared service center, Tricor ace, to deploy more robotics, optimisation, and automation. Tricor ace now automates the back-end operations for Tricor clients across a range of functions, including payroll, invoice management, and HR processes. As part of Tricor’s long-term digital strategy, the firm continues to explore how technology pillars can be integrated into its own internal processes and client service portfolio. Tricor’s pioneering approach to scaling business growth in mainland China has relied on offering new capabilities that are innovative and unique. After outlining a strategic direction for growing its business across mainland China, Tricor now offers a comprehensive suite of differentiating solutions that is consistent with its vision for cross-border synergy. Tricor now has 47 offices across 21 countries.










Graduates need guts, gumption, and a global mindset


he COVID-19 pandemic and continuing social unrest sparked by pro-democracy protests have converged to deal a dramatic blow to Hong Kong’s economy, rendering the city’s future uncertain. Experts say Hong Kong is on the edge of a precipice and recovery is expected to be elusive. The numbers certainly tell a grim story. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.2% in the April-to-June period, the highest in more than 15 years. The underemployment rate came in at 3.7%, the highest in almost 17 years. Amongst all age groups, those between 20 and 24 are most affected. The unemployment rate for this group hit 14.3%. The government has introduced a scheme to create thousands of temporary jobs. Universities are aiding their students in their search for work. Companies in some sectors are still growing and hiring. However, even all of this is not keeping spirits up. Numerous fresh graduates describe being close to succumbing to despondence as their first steps into the workforce are marred by this unprecedented crisis. This is understandable since the economic repercussions of COVID-19 have yet to be fully felt. The situation is likely to get worse before the first rays of light at the end of the tunnel become visible. But, this is no reason not to make the best of the current situation to learn how to thrive amidst adversity. Surviving in this climate requires a paradigm shift. Young graduates should see this period as an opportunity to develop an agile and global mindset that would help them future-proof their careers. Openness and flexibility Firstly, be especially open to diverse job opportunities. Don’t be picky in terms of the industry or the nature of the work. Careers today are hardly ever linear and the first job one lands straight out of school is not necessarily going to be the beginning of a lifelong career. This is a time for new experiences and learning opportunities which can be found in any job. For instance, a temporary job as a customer service agent in a call centre would help you hone transferable interpersonal skills that could serve you in many future job roles. Fresh graduates also need to be flexible about terms of employment. During this period, more companies are looking into building a dynamic workforce comprising both full-time staff and contract specialists. It is a way for them to break out of the destructive cycle of hiring, retrenching during a crisis, then hiring again when the economy recovers. Considering this, take on a short-term contract or project work with relish. Use this as an opportunity to pick up skills and experience for future roles in other companies. Also, bear in mind that if you perform well, such work could very well lead to a permanent role within the same company. When it comes to compensation, be realistic. At this point, wages are likely to be lower than before. But when you excel in what you do and succeed in adding value to your employer’s vision and mission, money will come.



JARED NG Regional Consulting Director, PeopleSearch Hong Kong

Guts and gumption: take an unconventional approach During this time, even with the right mindset and attitude, finding work is likely to take longer than ever before. Aside from patience, you need the guts and gumption to take extraordinary steps to stand out. As you send out resumes, ensure that they are customised for each job role you apply for. Use professional networking sites to your advantage by reaching out directly to decision-makers in the companies you want to work for. Do the necessary research to find out more about their pain points. Then, tell them why you would like to work for them, describe the value you can bring to the company and provide concrete solutions to their business challenges. Solution-oriented candidates are very much in demand in a crisis. In a 2017 TED talk, entrepreneur and talent expert, Jason Shen, described the unconventional approach he took to get a job as a Product Manager at American e-commerce website, Etsy. “The company had recently gone public, so as part of my job application, I read the IPO filings from cover to cover and built a website from scratch which included my analysis of the business and four ideas for new features. It turned out the team was actively working on two of those ideas and had seriously considered a third. I got the job,” he said. I fervently believe that all jobseekers should endeavour to do this for a position they really want. Don’t be discouraged if response times are slow. Continue trying elsewhere. The important thing is to never give in to stagnation. This is no time to mope. Instead, spend time picking up new skills. Look at growing markets and do a personal skills audit based on employers’ needs. Learn the skills you will need to bring value to employers today. You should highlight your skills development efforts in any interaction with prospective employers. A willingness to learn new skills to adapt to business needs is a plus in what continues to be a volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous (VUCA) world. A global mindset The economic crisis is certainly debilitating, but let us not forget that whilst pandemic mitigation measures have erected certain barriers, they have pulverised others. Work-from-home (WFH) arrangements have made many employers realise that remote employees can be just as productive as those on the premises. They are now more open to remote hiring across borders. Therefore, workers should take a global approach as well by actively taking advantage of remote work and telecommuting opportunities in any part of the world. Doing well in this era is contingent upon actively reframing dire circumstances to focus on hope and opportunities. This period in our history could lend fresh impetus to the growth of a resilient and robust generation. Let us not squander it by allowing ourselves to get sucked into a maelstrom of negativity.

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A new dawn for retailers across the Asia Pacific region


rior to the global pandemic, 53% of purchases in Asia Pacific continued to be in-store. As various levels of lockdown were implemented, retail businesses across Asia Pacific had to scramble and consumers were forced to change their purchasing behaviour. Although Asia is the fastest-growing region in the global e-commerce marketplace, small retailers and traditional mom-and-pop shops were hard hit because they did not have an online presence, nor were they plugged in to any established delivery network. Even industry giants and stalwarts were struggling as they identified process lapses and legacy infrastructure that simply could not adapt, at speed, to the drastic shift in consumer purchasing behaviour. On the consumer front, the number one barrier to online shopping was high-shipping fees, followed by concerns over the ability to return items, lack of payment options and security. However, as entire countries shut their stores, and fear of infection increased, consumers were faced with little choice but to move their shopping, even for basic daily necessities, online. As the “new normal” emerges, we will see the industry pushing to align itself with Business 4.0 TM principles: leveraging ecosystems, personalizing at scale, embracing risk, and creating exponential value, in order to pivot their business towards growth, transformation, and sustainability. Enterprises that are purpose-driven, resilient, and adaptable will come out of this slump stronger and ready to take on the unprecedented era ahead of us. Mass Hyper-Personalization The marketplace of the new normal is an equal playing field devoid of face-to-face service that was often associated with the brick and mortar retail environment. Retailers are having to respond to queries where nuance and context, usually delivered through speech, are missing. Where once, interpersonal service, interior design and physical location dictated consumer perceptions of brand, quality and price, consumers are now faced with templated webpages featuring an array of products from different retailers that look identical and claim to do the exact same thing, but now with the option to sort by price. Even before the global pandemic shut down shopping malls and boutiques, personalization was a unique selling point (USP). However, delivering personalized experiences is no longer a competitive differentiator. Incorporating personal and transactional information into communications—name, purchase history, birthday, etc.—is a good practice, but not engaging enough to inspire action. The demand from consumers, seeking differentiators in the sea of sameness, is for mass hyper-personalization. 1. Personalized to the individual: The retailer must interact with an audience of one, with a rich understanding of the consumer, including information such as: profile, preferences and affinities, sentiments, shopping history, rewards membership status, etc. Furthermore, the interactions should be delivered via the right combination of a customer’s preferred channels (whether that is by phone, email, text,



GIRISH RAMACHANDRAN President, Asia Pacific Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

mail, website, mobile app or in-person). 2. Contextual to the situation: Retailers need to tailor offers and actions using a contextual understanding of what the consumer is trying to do (their overall goal) and where they currently are on their physical/digital journey. The retailer should understand whether the consumer is still researching products or is ready to buy. It should understand the brand interactions to date, and the next actions that are most likely to favourably influence shopper experience and behaviour. A hyper-personalized experience usually includes integrated digital/ physical interactions. 3. Timely: To catch the customer in the act of deciding, retailers need the capability to surface timely recommendations for interactions and offers and deliver them when they matter most. However, hyperpersonalization does not necessarily require that retailers provide customers with real-time offers (triggered by data in milliseconds to as long as five minutes). In retail marketing, the most important part of timing is that the response to an input happens at the most opportune time given the consumer’s situation. That could be in seconds, minutes, days or even weeks. Exponential Value It seems almost laughable that just a few months ago, we were discussing the “age of new consumerism”—an era driven by experience and transformed by technology, where consumers were constantly reassessing their priorities and increasingly gravitating toward the propositions of “experience” and “value”. Whilst the WHAT has not changed, COVID-19 has brought about new definitions of HOW experience as a value is delivered and perceived. With the advent of e-commerce, retailers the world over are already striving to be “future-ready”, but they are having to grapple with fundamental issues: (1) 80% of shelf resets result in zero or negative category performance, (2) about 70% of items do not break-even on promotion, and (3) over 50% key value items are overpriced as compared to the competition. The NEW new age of consumerism demands new thinking, behaviours, and capabilities to design, deliver, and thrive. Retailers can unlock exponential value by using the combinatorial power of new age solutions to create automated, intelligent, and autonomous enterprises. The most celebrated examples of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications in retail have been in areas such as personalization, marketing, and online search and commerce. However, companies can achieve much bigger gains by applying algorithmic retail to areas such as design and sourcing, supply chain, logistics, supplier management, buying, merchandising, and store operations. The focus must be on being brilliant at the basics, delivering a personalized and fulfilling experience to customers, and creating sustained exponential business value using technology.

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