Hong Kong's Securities Regulator Joins the Crowd Fleeing Central

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s securities regulator is the latest high-profile name in finance to decide that rents in Central are too expensive to stomach.

The Securities and Futures Commission will move in 2020 to One Island East in Quarry Bay, cutting rental costs in half, according to a SFC statement filed with lawmakers.

Stratospheric rents have already prompted some hedge funds to exit Hong Kong’s main business district, while the likes of BNP Paribas SA and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have moved some staff to cheaper locations.

The securities regulator will move from the landmark Cheung Kong Center, which houses businesses including Goldman, Barclays Plc, Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg LP and billionaire Li Ka-shing’s empire. Its new home, a Swire Properties Ltd. building popular with financial firms, is eight subway stops east.

The SFC will take nine floors spanning close to 200,000 square feet (18,581 square meters), said a person familiar with the matter. The regulator will pay around HK$60 ($7.60) a square foot per month, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. A spokesman for the SFC declined to comment.

Grade-A offices in Central rent for about HK$150 a square foot per month, according to Colliers International Group Inc. A cryptocurrency firm set a record by leasing space in the Cheung Kong tower for HK$225 a square foot per month, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported last year.

Annual occupancy costs in Central are the world’s most expensive, topping London’s West End and Beijing’s Finance Street, according to CBRE Group Inc.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.