Bank of America looking at moving staff from Hong Kong to Singapore: FT

The US bank is looking at roles in a number of business lines and operations. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Bank of America is looking at moving staff from Hong Kong to Singapore as the Chinese territory's strict zero-Covid-19 approach is forcing businesses to review their operations, the Financial Times reported.

The United States bank is looking at roles in a number of business lines and operations, the newspaper said, citing a person close to the bank. It is doing contingency planning and it is unclear how many people could be moved, according to the report.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.

Hong Kong's zero-Covid-19 strategy is making it hard for bankers to travel in and out of the financial hub. Officials this month clamped down further as Omicron emerged, forcing close contacts into government camps, closing schools and banning flights, on top of the 21 days of mandated quarantine for incoming travellers.

Business groups have been sounding a warning that the city's status as a financial centre is increasingly at risk. Global banks face a talent crunch in Hong Kong as they struggle to retain staff and recruit candidates from overseas.

Hong Kong's zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 could keep the Asian financial hub cut off from most of the world until 2024 and fuel a large-scale exodus of international workers and executives, according to a draft report by the European Chamber of Commerce in the city this week.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said earlier this month that international travel restrictions are now the top concern for companies in a survey. The quarantine rules for travellers make it difficult for head offices to operate, with about 44 per cent of respondents saying they are likely to leave.

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