(Bloomberg) — Challenges are mounting for Hong Kong’s major financial summit this week, with three top executives pulling out and a tropical cyclone approaching.
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Blackstone Inc. President Jonathan Gray will no longer attend the event because he contracted Covid and Chief Financial Officer Michael Chae will go instead, a Blackstone spokesperson told Bloomberg News.
Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer C.S. Venkatakrishnan scrapped a plan to visit Asia this week, including the Hong Kong summit, a company spokeswoman said. That comes after Citigroup Inc. last week said Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser would no longer attend after testing positive for the virus.
The three-day event, organized by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, is designed to show the city is back in business after years of isolation caused by Covid restrictions raised doubt over its future as an international finance center. About 200 participants from more than 100 major global firms including banks, securities companies, asset managers and hedge funds are expected to attend the summit, which starts on Tuesday.
Gray was due to talk on a panel about global uncertainty, while Fraser was down to speak on a panel about sustainable finance, according to an itinerary on the Hong Kong Monetary Authority website. Venkatakrishnan wasn’t scheduled to appear on any panel in the summit.
The city’s observatory said on Monday it will consider raising the no. 3 strong wind signal later in the day. Severe tropical storm Nalgae is currently about 670 km south-southeast of Hong Kong and is forecast to move north-northwest at about 10 km per hour, the observatory said. The storm will be close to the Pearl River Estuary on Wednesday and Thursday, it said.
Hong Kong has a detailed series of weather alerts that determine whether businesses, schools and public transport operate, including the $4.2 trillion stock market. The higher no. 8 signal can effectively shut down the city, depending on when it is raised.
An HKMA spokesperson said it will make the most appropriate arrangement for the summit and any updates to the programme will be announced in due course.
Other top executives scheduled to attend include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon and Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman.
Hong Kong removed a number of Covid restrictions, including hotel quarantine, in the run up to the event. It will be followed by the international Rugby Sevens tournament, which starts on Friday in its first return to the city since 2019. The city faces mounting competition from Singapore as a regional hub for global business and talent, while its economy has taken a hammering.
–With assistance from Kiuyan Wong.
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