An ideal listing destination for Middle East companies

Hong Kong is an ideal listing destination for Middle East businesses, according to a new joint report by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and CCB International Capital Limited (CCB International). The report, which is released today, shows that many companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) see the city as their first choice when it comes to securing funding, building stronger ties with Asia (particularly China), and, ultimately, enjoying greater global recognition.

In order to explore the potential for UAE and KSA companies to secure listings in Hong Kong, the HKTDC and CCB International renewed their collaboration [1] to deliver the new report – Hong Kong: An Ideal Overseas Listing Venue for Middle East Companies. This led them to share a series of insights from in-depth interviews with UAE and KSA industry experts and practitioners as to Hong Kong‘s suitability as a listing destination for Middle East companies. The research, which was conducted from June to October this year, concluded that several Middle East business sectors in particular – Energy and Renewable Energy, Healthcare and High-tech, Infrastructure, and Finance – had the most to benefit from a Hong Kong listing.

Commenting on the significance of the findings, Irina Fan, Director of HKTDC Research, said: “For those Middle East companies looking to expand in the region, access to Hong Kong’s diverse pool of international institutional investors will clearly be of huge benefit. This is especially the case as many such investors have an in-depth understanding of both the pan-Asia and China-specific opportunities now emerging.” She adds, “Another plus point is the impressive breadth and depth of the Hong Kong stock market. The high level of trading activity that underpins this is a clear indication of just how robust the city’s capital market has proven over the long-term.”

Michelle Pan, Head of Corporate Finance & Capital Market Services at CCB International, said: “Following the visits of President Xi and HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee to the Middle East over the past two years, the Hong Kong capital market has begun exploring opportunities for collaboration between Middle East companies and the Hong Kong financial markets. In this context, this all-rounded research paper has been developed to explain why Hong Kong, with its unique attributes, is an ideal listing and fund raising destination for Middle East enterprises. The paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of listing in Hong Kong, including access to a deep pool of capital, a world-class regulatory framework, a vibrant and dynamic business environment, and a gateway to the vast Chinese market.”

Middle East: Looking at opportunities in new markets

Middle East stock exchanges have witnessed record-breaking initial public offerings (IPOs) in recent years, with bourses in KSA and UAE all ranking among the world’s top 10 in 2022 in terms of IPO funds raised. The opportunities stemming from overseas listings, primary, dual-primary and secondary included, however, have yet to be fully exploited.

At present, many UAE and KSA companies are actively looking at opportunities in new markets and seeking funding via equity markets as they look to deliver on their global expansion plans, many of which align with the region’s commitment to economic diversification as it looks to move on from its traditional dependence on its oil and gas resources. A clear synergy, however, has become apparent between the region and fast-growing Asia, something seen as offering tremendous opportunities for many UAE and KSA businesses as they look to make good on their economic diversification aspirations.

For many UAE and KSA companies, pursuing an overseas listing is not only a way of financing their overseas expansion projects, but also an effective marketing channel as they look to enhance their global recognition and improve their visibility and credibility among clients, institutions and the investing public in a number of target markets.

Hong Kong advantages: location, rule of law, impressive market breadth and depth, global investor base

During the course of the research, interviews with a number of experts highlighted the unique benefits on offer to Middle East companies that look to list in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most highly regarded financial centres. Strategically located at the gateway to many of Asia’s major markets – most notably mainland China and the ASEAN bloc – Hong Kong has considerable appeal for UAE and KSA companies. Most notably, a Hong Kong listing will ensure such businesses can fully leverage the advantages of the city’s strategic location, while gaining access to its well-established networks and stable business environment and benefitting from its rule of law and its abundant talent pool, which is widely seen as capable of delivering the highest quality of professional service. The city’s unique advantages also extend to the absence of capital controls and a transparent, resilient Linked Exchange Rate System.

Hong Kong’s robust legal framework – something that Middle East companies value particularly highly – is a significant advantage and an essential part of its appeal as a listing destination. As the only common law jurisdiction within China, Hong Kong and its legal system has a proven track record of upholding the rule of law and of maintaining judicial transparency. This framework has long functioned as a guarantee of the fundamental rights of any global enterprise or investor looking to raise or allocate funds as part of a Hong Kong-based listing initiative.

In addition, Hong Kong’s stock market has long been renowned for its maturity, vibrancy and global connectivity, while its sizeable market capitalisation consistently sees it rank among the top 10 largest stock markets on a global basis. As to its diverse investor pool, according to the Securities and Futures Commission, overseas and Mainland China investors accounted for 64% of the asset and wealth management businesses in Hong Kong in 2022, with the majority of overseas investors coming from North America (23%), Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region (14%), all of which instilled substantial liquidity in the local equity market.

As to how Hong Kong can optimise its role as a premium listing hub for Middle East companies, the research emphasised the importance of strengthening and sustaining its connectivity with many Middle East countries, especially at the government and regulatory level.

Overall, building closer G2G relationships with many Middle East economies was seen as of paramount importance, with the countries’ respective governments seen as playing a significant role in steering the relevant business sectors. It was also recommended that a higher level of market promotion and investment education be undertaken with regard to many Middle East prospects as a means of nurturing and directing their interest in Hong Kong’s financial services resources.

The first research report focuses on the overall overseas listing regime of Hong Kong as well as Hong Kong as a listing destination for UAE companies, while the subsequent report on KSA companies listing in Hong Kong will be released in the first quarter of 2024.

Pioneering Art and Fashion in China Exhibition

M+, Asia's first global museum of contemporary visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, invited over 600 guests to inaugurate the first-ever museum exhibition in the world dedicated to Song Huai-Kuei—widely known during her lifetime as Madame Song.

Eight Hong Kong celebrities and models wore Shanghai Tang Bespoke Imperial Tailoring collection made-to-order pieces at the opening ceremony of M+’s new exhibition ‘Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China’. (Image Source: Courtesy of M+, Hong Kong and Photographer Michael CW Chiu)

At the opening ceremony, M+ collaborated with fashion brand Shanghai Tang to present a fashion show, inviting guests to reminisce on Madame Song's lifelong dedication to promote China's culture to the world. Synonymous with the idea of 'East meets West', Shanghai Tang paired up their imperial tailoring collection with Madame Song's multiple identities—artist, entrepreneur, fashionista, and cultural ambassador. Shanghai Tang's founder the late Sir David Tang was Madame Song's good friend, making the fashion stunt even more meaningful.

Shanghai Tang showcased bespoke dresses and jewellery series which represent the possibility of promoting cultural exchanges. The celebrity models on the fashion runway that night included Angie Ng, Zelia Zhong, Moon Lau, Christy Lai, Joyce Ngai and more. At the show's finale, Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, led celebrity models to cheer and celebrate the perfect opening evening. Representatives from the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), M+, Song Huai-Kuei's family members and sponsors of 'Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China' attended the exhibition opening ceremony. During the event, Bernard Chan, Chairman of the M+ Board, Betty Fung, Chief Executive Officer, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, and Dr Pi Li, curator of 'Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China' and former Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial Affairs, M+ also dressed in Shanghai Tang to join in the ceremony.

Madame Song's extraordinary story offers a lens through which the audience can appreciate the significant transformation of China's visual culture after the country's reform and opening-up to the world. Centred around the life and times of Song Huai-Kuei, the exhibition will feature more than 320 objects to narrate Song's fascinating biography and her underestimated influence on transforming China during the period of reform and opening-up in the 1980s into a cosmopolitan and culturally diverse society today.

In July 2023, Shanghai Tang launched a pop-up store at The M+ Shop. In addition to showcasing the home items, clothes, handbags, and accessories of the brand, Shanghai Tang also selected a series of artworks and artist collaborated merchandise that are exclusively sold in limited quantities at The M+ Shop. SHANGHAI TANG+ pop-up space is featured at the shop next to the museum's Artist Square Entrance, specially adorned with Shanghai Tang's iconic fluorescent colours. Shanghai Tang believes that the symbol "+" represents the diverse and inclusive nature of the collaboration, pointing not only to the visual cultural forms that M+ has always conveyed, but also to a selection of designs carefully curated for the artistic pop-up. The brand hopes that the symbol "+"brings more potentials for fashion, art, lifestyle, and international cultural exchanges.

SHANGHAI TANG was established by Sir David Tang KBE, in Hong Kong in 1994. The brand name adopts the transliteration of 'Shanghai Bund' in Chinese and humorously combines it with the English pronunciation of the founder's surname 'Tang'. Inspired by the romance and opulence of the 1930's Shanghai Bund, Sir David Tang opened a Chinese-style tailor shop in Hong Kong dedicated to preserving the traditional craftsmanship of Chinese tailoring.

SHANGHAI TANG is renowned for combining unique design concepts with traditional Chinese elements. Innovative fabrication and bold colours are applied with traditional Chinese craftsmanship to create a new contemporary oriental aesthetic. Over the years, many international celebrities have favoured the brand including the late Princess Diana, Gong Li, Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, and Sammi Cheng, to name a few. The brand pays attention to the importance of art to Chinese culture, and continuously collaborates with famous Chinese contemporary artists, such as Liu Ye, Xu Bing, etc., making art one of the core values of SHANGHAI TANG.

Today, SHANGHAI TANG is still leading the exquisite oriental lifestyle, adhering to the core concept of 'Make Life a Party'. Through traditional Chinese designs, delicate craftsmanship, high-quality products and excellent services, SHANGHAI TANG has prospered into a recognizable Chinese brand and extends the allure of contemporary oriental aesthetics to various products and art collaborations. The brand's product line includes bespoke tailoring services, ready-to-wear, accessories, jewellery, homeware and artworks.

Resurgent Chinese Film Market

Mainland China's film market has long been one of the most dynamic and promising in the world, and in the first half of this year, the Chinese film market experienced an exciting recovery. In particular, the recent release of "Lost in the Stars" (消失的她), in which Alibaba Pictures Group Limited (Stock code:1060, referred to as the "Company") was heavily involved in the investment and distribution, has generated significant buzz at the box office and created a wave of movie-going frenzy. In just over 10 days since its release, the film's box office receipts have exceeded RMB2.7 billion, equivalent to 9% of China's total box office revenue last year, making it a dark horse at the box office and the opening of the summer season for the Company.

"Lost in the Stars" leads the way in the summer box office

As the primary producer, distributor, and promoter of the film, Alibaba Pictures has achieved a full-scale deployment in the production and marketing chain of "Lost in the Stars", including investment, distribution, ticket sales and other aspects. "Lost in the Stars" is also the prelude to the Company's rich lineup of 16 films for the summer season. The strong start to the season once again demonstrates the Company's forward-looking planning in the content industry and the continuous improvement of its production and development capabilities.

After the Dragon Boat Festival, the summer box office season kicked off, and the number of scheduled films has exceeded 90 and continues to grow, making this year's film market performance highly anticipated. According to data from Beacon Professional, as of 4pm, July 6, the total box office revenue (including pre-sales) of this year's summer box office had exceeded RMB5.626 billion. The film "Lost in the Stars", released by Alibaba Pictures and Taopiaopiao, continued its momentum as a dark horse at the box office during the Dragon Boat Festival, leading the summer box office. As of 4pm, July 6, the box office receipts of "Lost in the Stars" had exceeded RMB2.728 billion, making it one of the hottest films of the summer, and it is expected to become the top grossing film in the summer box office and post the largest attendance record in the past three years.

Alibaba Pictures continues to expand its presence in the entertainment industry

Alibaba Pictures has strong capabilities in film production, distribution, and promotion, and will further strengthen its presence in the pan-entertainment industry by enhancing its dual-engine strategy of "content and technology", while building out its own unique entertainment ecosystem. The Company is making significant investments in a full range of entertainment content and enhancing its capabilities to produce a broader range of content, including film and drama series content, with a view to steadily delivering high-quality content to the market. It is also expanding the scope of its technology platform services and exploring business opportunities associated with digital humans and multiple business models for IP merchandising and commercialization, in order to provide consumers with a richer, better and more tangible product experience. Moreover, the Company is actively promoting its collaboration and cooperation within the Alibaba ecosystem, such as online live streaming, online ticketing, and film merchandising, to unlock the potential of "content + technology".

In addition to investment and product layout, the Company also emphasizes cooperation and communication within the industry. Through cooperation with domestic and overseas film companies, directors, actors, and others, it brings more international elements to the development of China's film industry and enhances the international visibility and influence of Chinese films.

In the future, with the recovery of China's film market, Alibaba Pictures will continue to adhere to its dual-engine strategy and innovative spirit, strengthen cooperation with all parties, and continuously promote the development of China's film industry to bring greater returns to investors.

Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 opens in Beijing

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 recently opened at The Ming Tombs Tourist Center, co-hosted by Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau, the CPC Changping District Committee and Changping District People's Government of Beijing Municipality.

Themed "Splendid Ming Dynasty, Glorious Culture", the Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 features one main forum, five themed forums, one international symposium, three culture heritage exhibitions and 10 cultural events that will continue throughout the year. The goal is to further leverage Changping District's advantage as the sole intersection of the three "culture belts" of Beijing, dive into and carry forward the virtues of Ming Dynasty culture, push for creative transformation and innovative development of fine traditional Chinese culture in Changping District and help it build a world-famous Ming Dynasty culture research, exchange and experience center, according to the Publicity Department of Changping District.

The Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) had its special glamour in Chinese history. During the period, a wealth of results were achieved in economy, culture, art, science and technology and other fields, making outstanding contributions to the world's cultural progress. The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum aims to dive into and carry forward the virtues of Ming Dynasty culture, present its distinctive aspects through historical and cultural lens and add new elements to modern life.

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 brings together about 60 cultural celebrities, well-known scholars and influencers to share their insights and chart the course for the inheritance and high-quality development of Ming Dynasty culture in the new era.

Combining both academic and non-academic components, the Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 targets specialists and the general public alike and highlights popular and modern elements. The forum will also hold a series of activities such as the Traditional Chinese Medicine Culture and Tourism Festival and the "Bai Zi Yi" (100-family clothes for a baby's 100-day celebration) flash mob. Digital technology will be employed to create immersive experiences to sell cultural and creative products. All this is designed to help Changping District make Ming Dynasty culture one of its cultural signatures, attract more tourists and increase its visibility and influence.

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum will continue to fully perform its functions for pooling resources, driving development, pioneering innovation, facilitating communication and exchange and providing service and support. It will work to engage more people, interpret and showcase Ming Dynasty culture in more diverse forms, help improve regional economic and cultural quality and efficiency and make Ming Dynasty culture a great namecard of Changping District.