As a result, it reached a deal in August, which Searle described as a “franchise“ arrangement, to sell the business to local manager Edward Harris, who announced this week he has subsequently sold to Holborn Assets.
The acquisition by Holborn, which includes all of its clients and staff, effectively ends the presence of Dubai-headquartered Globaleye in the special administrative region.
“In light of GN16, coupled with the astronomical operating costs of the Hong Kong operation, the management of Globaleye determined that the Hong Kong business had no viable future,” Searle said.
GN16 is a series of regulatory changes introduced in July 2015 which sought to strengthen consumer protection for all long-term insurance-related business sold in Hong Kong.
Searle told International Adviser that it then reached a deal with Harris, who at that point had been chief executive of Globaleye Hong Kong for nearly four years.
Harris, however, denied that GN16 had much impact on Globaleye Hong Kong, telling IA that around 80% of its business was single premium and therefore not hit by the new regulation.
Sale to Holborn
As part of the franchising agreement, “once Globaleye Hong Kong had completed its contractual obligations, they were at liberty to explore other options”, Searle confirmed.
Harris said to IA: “I looked at various options with my colleagues over the last few months, but once we met with Holborn it was clear that the combination of the top-quality advisers we have in Hong Kong, with Holborn’s lead generation, back office support and asset management solutions, was going to provide a winning combination.”
Globaleye in Hong Kong
Searle said Globaleye could be back in Hong Kong one day, but not in the near future.
“Should the Hong Kong business environment change then we would consider reviewing this market again, however, in light of the regulatory landscape and high costs, I doubt this will happen in the immediate future,” he added.
From its headquarters in Dubai, Globaleye runs a network of offices worldwide which include Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh city in Asia. The wealth management firm’s current global managing director is Byron Murphy, who also heads up the Singapore office.