Hong Kong's political crisis has swept over the fortune of its 10 richest tycoons, with the stock market rout costing them about $15bn, the FT reports.
The stock market has seen its gains for the year wiped out amid escalating conflicts between police and protesters.The benchmark Hang Seng index has dropped 9% in August, taking it into the red for 2019 amid a sell-off in both Hong Kong-focused stocks and those at risk from broader unrest.
HSBC Holdings' shares have plunged 13% in just three weeks and are the most oversold since at least 1989, while BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd has dropped 12% this month.
Those investors that haven’t already done so are beginning to question the utility of being based in the territory. Others have already begun the search for more politically stable hubs in the Asia-Pacific"
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flag carrier, has seen its stock drop more than 7% this week, bringing it to its lowest level in a decade
Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest man, has racked up paper losses of more than $3bn since the end of July, according to Financial Times calculations based on Bloomberg data tracking the billionaires' disclosed positions in listed companies.
Li, Lee Shau-kee, head of Henderson Land, and Lee Man-tat, chairman of the parent company of sauce maker Lee Kum Kee, have seen their fortunes drop almost one-tenth in August.
Demonstrations in Hong Kong, sparked by opposition to an amendment to the extradition law, show no sign of letting up and have become increasingly disruptive. The city's airport, one of the busiest in Asia, was brought to a standstill earlier this week as protesters swarmed the terminal, resulting in the cancellation of flights.
Analysts said it could make foreign investors think twice about setting up shop in Hong Kong, which has long prided itself as being Asia's leading business city with convenient air links for executives traveling across the region.
"The level of political risk associated with operating in Hong Kong is unprecedently high and the situation isn't simply a flash in the pan," said Hugo Brennan, principal Asia analyst at global risk consultancy Veritas Maplecroft, told Associated Press.
"Those investors that haven't already done so are beginning to question the utility of being based in the territory. Others have already begun the search for more politically stable hubs in the Asia-Pacific," he said.
"The situation in Hong Kong has now become risky in terms of potential consequences, but also threatens the reputation of the city as a safe and stable business hub served by a world class airport," said Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Warwick University, added.
High net worth individuals and precious metals investors who store their physical gold holdings in Hong Kong are reconsidering their options in light of the unrest that has rocked the city, and many of them are thinking about moving their holdings to Singapore.
However, the city's increasingly violent protests and slowing economy aren't scaring dip buyers on the mainland. Onshore-based investors have purchased a net $5.1bn of Hong Kong stocks in the last 20 sessions, the longest run of inflows since February 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They bought the most in nearly 10 months on Thursday.