On 20 January 2020, the South China Morning Post published a story that explored Singapore’s relative lack of competitiveness against Hong Kong in raising capital, and whether it was the right call for Singapore companies that have switched to the Hong Kong exchange.
TSMP Law Corporation Joint Managing Partner Stefanie Yuen Thio, who heads the firm’s capital markets practice, said: “You need to be a heavy hitter to make waves in Hong Kong, and companies that would be feted as home-grown stock market darlings in Singapore may get a more lukewarm reception in Hong Kong. I wonder if these same companies would consider listing in Hong Kong today, given its unrest and the general market sentiment that the protests are an irreversible tectonic shift in the foundation of the Special Administrative Region.”
She shared that she had heard it was business as usual in stock market fundraisings there, “even if some days the lawyers and bankers have to take a two-hour detour to get to the office because of transport disruptions from the protests”.
“However, I believe that it is the future IPOs where the protests will have the most effect,” she said. “Companies planning to list in Hong Kong are looking for alternatives. Other stock exchanges and private equity funds are likely to be the big winners here.”
As it stands now, she believes a comparison between the two cities is outdated.
“Hong Kong’s stock market is part of the Chinese financial ecosystem while Singapore stands independent. We do not have access to capital that China provides, but we are also an independent nation state. I believe that some IPO aspirants who had previously considered Hong Kong would naturally consider Singapore too, but it will be because of our reputation for being a reputable and independent financial centre; we are not for those looking for a stock market as a casino.”