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Dubai prince issues third statement in 4 days, reaffirms plan to launch US$500 million family office in Hong Kong

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“It has been confirmed that the operation of the sheikh’s family office in Hong Kong will proceed as planned,” said Eleanor Jane Mak, the office’s vice-chairman and CEO.

“It is merely the inauguration ceremony that has been planned and will now be postponed until the sheikh comes to Hong Kong again at the end of May.”

The ceremony was abruptly postponed last week, with the office at the time saying the sheikh had “some urgent unexpected private matters” in the United Arab Emirates. It did not elaborate further on the situation.

Sheikh Ali Al Maktoum and Eleanor Jane Mak, the office’s vice-chairman and CEO, sign registration documents in Dubai in February. Photo: Handout

Maktoum has been thrust into the media spotlight after he pledged to open a US$500 million family office in Hong Kong and made several high-profile appearances.

The family office has also set up an official website and email, earlier saying both will be used for public announcements and to ensure transparency and accountability for all future communications.

“We reserve the right to take legal action against any false information or factually incorrect information,” it said in Monday’s statement.

The office repeated its apology for any inconvenience caused to all parties and the Hong Kong government over the ceremony’s postponement, expressing its “sincere gratitude” for the support and concern from various stakeholders.

The office was “very interested” in development opportunities in mainland China, Hong Kong and Asia, it said.

The prince’s representatives had also visited various mainland areas and cities, including the Greater Bay Area, to explore new business opportunities, according to the office.

The bay area refers to Beijing’s ambitious plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland cities into an economic powerhouse.

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“The directors and our office are committed to fostering global partnerships and pursuing investment opportunities that contribute to the prosperity and ecological health of the world,” the office said.

The second statement from Friday highlighted Maktoum’s focus on promoting sustainable business ties between the UAE and Asia, as well as citing his recent appointment as an honorary professor in sustainability leadership by the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong.

The Dubai prince’s ambitious investment plan attracted considerable attention and interest from mainland enterprises, but some had said they could find little public information about him.

Two sources with knowledge of the royals previously said Maktoum was from a “distant branch” of the ruling family.

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The UAE consulate earlier confirmed he was “from the ruling family” and “a sheikh” – an honorific title designating a royal family member.

Hong Kong has set its sights on becoming a wealth management and family office hub for Asia, with the government aiming to attract 200 new family offices to the city by 2025.

Last year, the government announced plans to develop family office businesses in Hong Kong, introducing a range of measures that sought to create a “conducive and competitive environment”.

Among them was the exemption of profits tax, which was introduced in May of last year.

The sheikh’s family office now plans to launch in May, it has said. Photo: Sam Tsang

Under the arrangement, the city waives a 16.5 per cent tax on profits generated from global stocks, bonds and other qualified investments by family offices set up in Hong Kong.

To receive this incentive, such firms must have an investment portfolio valued at HK$240 million (US$30.7 million), two employees in Hong Kong who may or may not be locals, and annual operating expenses of at least HK$2 million.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his budget speech last year that the government had allocated HK$100 million to promote family offices and other wealth-management businesses.

The development of the family office sector would also be conducive to pooling capital from around the world in Hong Kong, he said at the time.

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