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  Today Online 18 Sep 07
HK told: Learn from LA, London

PlanetArk 3 Sep 07
HK Pollution Problem Deters Expats - Amcham

Straits Times 27 Aug 07
HK's polluted air 'driving financial firms to Singapore'

HONG Kong's worsening air pollution is forcing hedge fund operators and investment specialists out of Hong Kong and into rival Singapore.

A front-page story in the Hong Kong newspaper, the Sunday Morning Post, said yesterday that several hedge funds, including US firms Marathon Asset Management and Stark Investments, as well as mutual fund company Janus Capital, have moved their Asian headquarters to Singapore in the past six months.

Another fund, Silver Metis, also chose Singapore as a base over Hong Kong, partly because of Singapore's cleaner environment, said the Post.

'Hedge fund bosses want to move to Singapore for their children's sake, but their younger single staff want to stay in Hong Kong to party,' a banker said.

The organisations would not comment officially on their decisions to move, but insiders at several of the companies said pollution had been a major factor, the English-language newspaper said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one senior manager said environmental concerns were the 'prime motivation' for his firm's move out of Hong Kong. He said he knew of three others that had moved from Hong Kong or chose Singapore as a base when setting up Asian operations in the past year.

'You get to a point where you just don't want your children growing up with gas masks on,' he told the Post.

Another hedge fund insider said many had moved the majority of their businesses to Singapore, as well as their families but still maintained a front office operation in Hong Kong.

He noted that Singapore had lower staffing costs, homes were bigger and the regulatory regime less onerous. But the price for commercial office space was nearly as high as Hong Kong.

'But the real financial markets in Asia are in Hong Kong, and the big story is China,' he said. 'China-related equities are running hard, and it's easier to do that in Hong Kong.'

A spokesman for Hong Kong's Trade and Development Council told the Post there was no evidence that moving to Singapore had become a trend.

Poor air quality was cited as a key reason behind Hong Kong's fall from 20th spot in 2005 to 32nd place last year in an annual poll of expatriates on desirable cities to live in, The air pollution is caused by traffic exhaust and emissions drifting in from the neighbouring Pearl River Delta.

PlanetArk 3 Sep 07
HK Pollution Problem Deters Expats - Amcham

CHINA: September 3, 2007 HONG KONG - Hong Kong's air pollution is making it more difficult for companies to attract foreign staff to the territory, a survey released on Sunday by the city's American Chamber of Commerce shows.

In the survey, which covered responses from 89 chamber members, 51 percent of respondents said they had experienced difficulty recruiting professionals to come and work in Hong Kong and 70 percent said they knew of professionals who had declined to work in the territory because of the poor quality of the environment.

Given the deteriorating air quality, 57 percent of survey respondents indicated their companies were likely in future to invest more money elsewhere instead of Hong Kong. The survey was conducted by the Nielsen Company on behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Hong Kong is frequently cloaked in haze due to pollution spreading from factories in China's southern Guangdong province and from local power stations and vehicles.

Green group Friends of the Earth says the territory's bad-air days have doubled over the past decade.

The Hong Kong government, which has imposed emission caps on power companies and set goals to reduce emissions from vehicles, has said that air quality is at the top of its agenda but AmCham urged it to do more.

Today Online 18 Sep 07
HK told: Learn from LA, London

HONG KONG Hong Kong must take drastic action to slash pollution to keep attracting foreign investors and protect public health, a new study released yesterday said.

The city should follow the examples of Los Angeles and London, which have reaped the benefits of tougher emission targets and innovative anti-pollution measures, the Civic Exchange, a leading think-tank, said in a report.

"Air pollution has become the most serious environmental problem for Hong Kong, affecting not only public health but also the city's ability to attract and retain foreign investment," it said.

Lessons for Hong Kong: Air Quality Management in London and Los Angeles called for new stringent air quality standards, a study of Los Angeles' success in reducing emissions at its busy port and a re-examination of road pricing in light of London's introduction of the scheme.

It also called for greater cooperation with authorities in southern China, where heavy industry and factories are often blamed for much of the pollution here.

The report comes as Hong Kong residents endured a weekend of serious pollution, with the government warning people with heart or lung conditions to avoid doing exercise or outdoor activities in some parts of the city.

"Hong Kong aspires to be a financial centre, we need to be as clean as other financial centres," Ms Christine Loh, chief executive of Civic Exchange, told reporters. "Perhaps then the financial services sector will no longer feel worried about moving their people here," she added.

Last year, foreign chambers of commerce, including the powerful British and American chambers, warned that executives from their home countries had expressed concerns about setting up home in Hong Kong because of the pollution.

Hong Kong's famous Victoria Harbour was obscured by a grimy haze for around a third of last year, with the number of days of reduced visibility up by 172 per cent since 1997. AFP

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