Vanguard to close Hong Kong, Japan operations

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The fund giant, with about $5 trillion in assets, said in a statement that its Hong Kong business primarily served institutional clients and not retail investors, which are its primary focus.

It said the exit would happen gradually and take between 6 months to two years.

Vanguard, which launched a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) in China in May 2017, said it will “gradually cease (its) onshore presence in Hong Kong and make an orderly exit” from its Hong Kong ETF, Mandatory Provident Fund and Index-Tracking Investment Schemes businesses.

Hong Kong is home to Vanguard’s Asian headquarters. The index fund giant closed its Singapore operation in 2018.

In a separate statement, a spokesman confirmed that Vanguard would also close in Japan, and shift its primary office in Asia to Shanghai.

“Our future focus in Asia is on Mainland China,” the spokesman said in an email.

Vanguard’s closure plans were first reported on Wednesday by Ignites Asia, a Financial Times service.

Vanguard announced a China advisory joint venture in December 2019 with China’s leading fintech company, now known as Ant Group, to provide retail investment advisory services.

Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (N:BABA) (HK:9988), is targeting a more than $200 billion valuation in a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai and operates Yu’ebao, one of the world’s largest money market funds.