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The past couple of years has seen a wave


of Jersey businesses moving to set up Hong Kong offices. Ogier, Appleby and Vistra have all headed East, and are bullish about the experience. Mainland work remains slow, thanks to capital controls that stop capital crossing its borders. Vistra does most of its work with Western clients looking to establish a foothold in Asia, while Ogier advised on the Rusal flotation. Yet each has their eye on developments


in mainland China too. Jersey has a big part to play in capital-raising IPOs for mainland companies (see page 32). If a Chinese firm is looking to raise funds in Europe, Jersey is their best bet: it has G20 white-list status and a proven track record. It’s even in the perfect time zone to link East and West. And with Chinese entrepreneurs’ pockets


bulging, further opportunities for private wealth management will soon come knocking. Older Chinese entrepreneurs are wary of trusts, but the next generation will prove more receptive. “The younger generation are more international in their outlook, and are


prepared to listen to advice,” says Ashwood. “Think of the young wealthy individuals about to inherit family businesses – to tap into that, you really need a presence in China.”


Business imperative Awareness may well be the biggest barrier. Private client business is very difficult in China, where first you have to build confidence in the jurisdiction. Not enough people know what Jersey does. One problem is that the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda have been picking up work in Hong Kong for 10 to 15 years. Having started with the corporate restructuring work, they’re now well placed to handle the emerging private wealth. “Jersey missed the boat on Hong Kong,


and can’t afford to do the same thing again,” says Naomi Rive, Partner at Appleby. “But I’ve gone to Russia and Dubai before and won people round to the idea of what Jersey offers. China is no different.” It certainly has the products. The Jersey


Foundation and the island’s private trust company provisions are sophisticated


products that should sit more comfortably with Chinese entrepreneurs who are struggling with the trust concept. Given the right exposure, wealthy Chinese will be canny enough to snap them up. “Jersey trusts have worked internationally


for so long because they aid the orderly ownership and passing on of assets,” says Marcus Leese, MD of Ogier’s Hong Kong office. “They are just as relevant for Chinese entrepreneurs now as for the UK, US or Europe. It’s the same need, and just as great.” While the Chinese landscape is far from straightforward, it’s hard to imagine a world future in which China doesn’t play a huge role – and provide great opportunity. Jersey Finance has shown wisdom in getting involved. “The West has to learn from the East,” says Patel. “That’s where the drive of the world is right now. Push against it and you won’t win. Go out and do business in the East.” Confucius couldn’t have put it more simply. n


DAVE WALLER is a freelance business journalist


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June/July 2010 businesslife.je 21


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