HSBC's board holds a meeting in Hong Kong do discuss potentially moving the banks headquarters to the Asian financial hub. But as Lawrence White reports, Beijing's growing influence over the city could be a sticking point.
It's been based in London since the 90s... But HSBC could be returning home. The board kicking off a meeting on Wednesday in Hong Kong - where the bank was founded in 1865. Bosses are worried about tighter regulation and higher taxes in the UK - as well as the possibility of Britain breaking with the EU. But as Lawrence White reports, a move back to Hong Kong could bring problems of its own. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS ASIA INVESTMENT BANKING CORRESPONDENT, LAWRENCE WHITE, SAYING: "We've heard from a source inside HSBC that they're concerned the situation in Hong Kong could actually be getting worse, and they feel that the safety of executives in the long run might be under more threat than in the past." Hong Kong has long been seen as Asia's top city for banking and finance. It has a strong rule of law, and with partial autonomy from China, police from the mainland can't interfere with business. But HSBC bosses will be keenly aware of signs that the city's prized freedoms are being slowly taken away. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS ASIA INVESTMENT BANKING CORRESPONDENT, LAWRENCE WHITE, SAYING: "Five book sellers have disappeared recently, allegedly abducted by mainland forces, all of whom have published books that are critical of the Chinese communist government." So there are concerns now in Hong Kong that this city might be losing - or having eroded - the independence that has made it such an attractive financial centre. On a more positive note, Hong Kong is still a major source of global revenue for HSBC... But with China's economy slowing, growth is another part of the city's future that may be seen as unpredictable.