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Forget CLSA’s Hong Kong forum – Jefferies’ is the one to watch

CLSA’s annual conference was one of Hong Kong’s great investor events, but its mantle is passing to Jefferies, whose inaugural Asia Forum will be held at the Hyatt – CLSA’s old stamping ground.


When you have your foot on the neck of your enemy, keep pressing.

The adage sprang to mind when a frothy press release pinged into Euromoney’s inbox. It was from CLSA, a once proudly independent Hong Kong brokerage now run by China’s Citic Securities, which has shed staff at an alarming rate during the past year.

Clearly in fighting mode, CLSA seemed keen to put its annus horribilis, during which it lost long-time CEO Jonathan Slone, chairman Tang Zhenyi and star analyst Chris Wood, in the past.

It promised a “revamp” of its annual September investor forum, to be overseen by Kai Kaufmann, a former head of client strategy at Deutsche Bank, who braved the choppy waters to join CLSA in October.

But observers were left thinking: revamp, what revamp? CLSA, bought in 2013 for $1.3 billion by state-run Citic, promised to put “more than 350” Asia-Pacific corporates in front of delegates – but it has delivered that and more since the 1990s.

Where was mention of the reason many attend the four-day soiree? They come to hear Elton John or Duran Duran sing, and Bill Clinton or George Clooney grab them with gravitas.

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