HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) plans to establish a representative office in New York to market its offerings in the United States amid increasing doubts over the former British colony’s status as a financial hub.

The new office will comprise of only about five staff, sources familiar with the plans said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. The exchange will need regulatory licenses and plans to open the office as early as next year, the people said.

Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre has come under increasing doubts after China tightened its political grip on the city and as strict quarantine measures restrict travel. At the same time, the bourse has benefited from US regulators pushing to delist Chinese firms due to a lack of access to company accounts and growing geopolitical tension. Officials in Beijing are also cracking down on overseas listings.

The opening comes after Mr Nicholas Aguzin, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co banker, took over as chief executive this year. He was given the remit of both tightening controls at home and reviving the bourse’s bid to expand internationally two years after the failed acquisition of the London Stock Exchange. The exchange is also expanding its ties to the Chinese mainland, most recently launching futures on Chinese shares traded in Shanghai.

The New York office would mark its first presence in the US. The exchange also has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore and London, and owns the London Metal Exchange.

A spokesman for the bourse declined to comment.

The Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government owns about 6 per cent of HKEX, appoints the chairman and half of the board. The “unusual” structure was cited in a letter from the LSE in rejecting HKEX’s surprise US$36.6 billion (S$50.2 billion) bid in 2019.

HKEX officials are confident that the modest office opening will not be met with any political opposition, the people said.

The exchange has had plans to open new marketing and client coverage hubs in North America and Europe to expand its international footprint and customer engagement, improve client coverage and promote the Hong Kong markets.