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Swiss private equity giant Partners Group opens Hong Kong office with eye on rich clients

Switzerland-based private-equity giant Partners Group has opened an office in Hong Kong, becoming the latest investment firm to expand its wealth management business in the city.

Partners Group plans to use Hong Kong as a gateway to invest in mainland China, with the office to be headed by veteran fund manager Henry Chui.

"Given that Hong Kong is one of the largest global financial centres in the world, opening an office is a great way for us to develop our business further in the region by tapping the talent pool here," Chui, who is also the head of private wealth for Asia-Pacific, said in an interview with the Post.

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UBS, the biggest lender in Switzerland, and peers Julius Baer and EFG International, as well as Citigroup, HSBC and OCBC's private banking unit Bank of Singapore, have expanded operations in Hong Kong to tap high-net-worth clients in the Greater Bay Area, comprising Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland Chinese cities.

Henry Chui, the head of private wealth for Asia-Pacific at Partners Group. Photo: Partners Group alt=Henry Chui, the head of private wealth for Asia-Pacific at Partners Group. Photo: Partners Group>

Zug-based Partners Group, founded in 1996, had US$147 billion of assets under management last year. It focuses on companies that have not yet listed, including private equity, private real estate, private infrastructure and private debt.

Hong Kong is its 21st office globally. Besides its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, it has operations in the region in Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo.

"Hong Kong will be a great springboard for us to develop the business onshore in mainland China," Chui said. "One of the reasons we wanted to have an office in Hong Kong is the potential of private wealth in the city."

He added the office would allow Partners group to liaise with clients here and work with distributors - global private banks and wealth managers with a presence in the city.

Hong Kong had 2,703 single-family offices at the end of 2023, managing US$10 million to US$100 million of assets, a Deloitte study showed.

The Hong Kong government in March last year unveiled several measures to attract billionaires to set up family offices to pursue investment, philanthropy and succession planning. It has launched a refreshed investment-migration programme, tax breaks and art storage facilities, among others, to boost the wealth management sector.

Hong Kong, the largest offshore wealth hub in the Asia-Pacific region and the second largest globally, may overtake Switzerland in the coming two to three years, Chui said. "There is a tremendous amount of opportunity to capture offshore wealth in Hong Kong."

Chui said Partners Group will mainly use the Hong Kong office to distribute its investment products to professional investors, which in Hong Kong refers to those with at least HK$8 million (US$1.02 million) in investment assets.

Chui, who joined Partners Group's Singapore office in September 2022, returns to his hometown. Before joining Partners, he was the managing director at Nuveen and has also worked with Pimco, Invesco and Schroders, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"There is tremendous growth opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region, both from a distribution and an investment standpoint," he said, adding the region accounts for about 20 per cent of the company's investments.

Partners Group is familiar with Hong Kong. It invested in the apparel maker Trimco International Holdings in 2012 and exited six years later.

The company has invested more than US$6 billion in mainland Chinese companies, including Apex Logistics and casual dining chain Green Tea Restaurant.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.