Jersey: Jersey’s Growing Links With China

Last Updated: 14 September 2012
Article by Geoff Cook

Jersey's financial services industry is ideally placed to support the needs of corporate and institutional business and private clients in Greater China.

Through our ongoing engagement with intermediaries, lawyers and financial advisers, this message is now being conveyed more effectively than ever. The opening of a Jersey office in Hong Kong, the sizeable delegations visiting the region on a regular basis and the increasing banking deposits from the Far East now lodged with Jersey banks all demonstrate our growing links with Greater China.

Banking deposits in Jersey are currently at £167 billion. Almost 60% of the total value of deposits in Jersey banks is held in non sterling currencies and 20% is from emerging market economies. Most pertinent to current trends is that the Far East now accounts for over 6% of total banking deposits, which is nearly double last year's figure.

In 2009 significant strides were taken in developing business when Jersey companies were approved for listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. As part of the approval process, the Hong Kong Exchange had to satisfy itself that under Jersey law shareholder protection was at least equal to that in Hong Kong. United Company RUSAL Plc, the world's largest aluminium producer, was the first example of a Jersey incorporated company listed on the Exchange. More recently, West China Cement Limited became the first Chinese business held through a Jersey company to be listed. Others are anticipated. Head of Greater China Business Development in Jersey Finance's Hong Kong office in the Central Tower, Queen's Road Central, is Zhaoan Li, an investment and sales specialist with extensive knowledge of the region. Not only has Jersey's presence in the region been enhanced by the opening of an office and by more frequent visits by Government and regulatory officials and Jersey based professionals, but the contact has encouraged greater interest amongst the Chinese to visit Jersey.

Last year, the Chinese Ambassador to London paid an official visit to meet Government officials, the regulator and senior representatives of the finance industry. This year Jersey has welcomed a delegation of leading business people from Tianjin, who visited to learn more about the services available from the jurisdiction.

Jersey Finance plans to host another delegation to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in November. In the meantime Jersey's Treasury Minister, accompanied by the chief regulator, have been in Shanghai attending the Lujiazui Forum, a global platform for influential government representatives and world financial leaders to discuss international financial cooperation. In addition, a Tax Information Exchange Agreement has recently been negotiated and is due to be signed shortly. Such are the growing official and business ties that a scheme has been established enabling lawyers from a Shanghai based law firm to work in Jersey on secondment, while local lawyers are doing the same in Shanghai. Also, a microsite in Mandarin linked to the Jersey Finance website is under construction so that Chinese intermediaries and investors can learn about the services available from Jersey in their language and with a focus on their bespoke needs.

Here at Jersey Finance we recognise that it is crucial to visit our key markets regularly and to consistently explain our services and highlight the appeal of our jurisdiction. If not present talking about legislative developments and the modernisation of the products and services, a jurisdiction can quickly fall away in terms of awareness. We will draw attention to recent improvements to our legal framework including company law changes, the success of the new Jersey Foundation vehicle and the introduction of new limited partnerships, and also to Jersey's record in achieving top marks when its regulatory regime has been reviewed.

Chinese investors are rightly concerned that their money is managed in a well regulated jurisdiction, where corporate governance is strong. As ties with China are strengthened, Jersey will promote its reputation, governance and expertise, while responding to the specific requirements of investors based in the key markets in the region.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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