Outspoken China analyst to join hedge fund as its chief economist in Hong Kong

Mr Hong Hao is known for his outspoken views on China's financial markets and the economy. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Hao, the former China strategist at Bocom International Holdings who resigned earlier this year following bearish reports on the country, will be joining a Shanghai-based hedge fund as its chief economist in Hong Kong.

Mr Hong said he is opening GROW Investment Group's first office in Hong Kong and will help provide strategies for wealthy investors with their offshore asset allocations.

Mr Hong, who will also serve as research chief, starts his new role on Monday (Sept 5).

GROW is a global asset management company with a focus on high net worth individuals. It was founded in June last year by a group of veteran managers, with Navigator Global Investments and Lighthouse Investment Partners among its strategic investors.

"I am excited at the opportunities in this market - the market for overseas assets that are missing from rich Chinese portfolios," Mr Hong said, adding that he sees opportunities in structured products.

"It's going to be one of the biggest markets, especially for rich Chinese. Right now, 70 to 80 per cent of the money is in property. There is so much cash waiting to be invested, especially overseas."

Mr Hong is known for his outspoken views on China's financial markets and the economy as well as the accuracy of his forecasts. He had his Chinese social media accounts, including those on WeChat and Weibo, where he has more than three million followers, suspended earlier this year for unspecified violations.

While it's unclear which of his posts may have crossed the line, China has censored posts related to economically disruptive lockdowns.

In late March, as authorities locked down Shanghai, Mr Hong voiced his concern about the restrictions. "Shanghai: zero movement, zero GDP," he wrote on Twitter. Mr Hong reportedly resigned from Bocom International days later.

Mr Hong also blamed China's crackdown on tech companies for a crash in Chinese ADRs (American depositary receipts), and warned of lower valuations in those offshore-listed shares and possible capital flight because of regulatory spats between Beijing and Washington.

Mr Hong had appeared regularly on financial news outlets including Bloomberg TV and CNBC. He also has a track record in making accurate predictions about China's stock market, once calling the stock boom and bust cycle in 2015.

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