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Conference to explore doing business in Hong Kong after leadership transition (Released: 2/13/97)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Four major figures in Hong Kong's booming- and changing- business community will visit Stamford Feb. 20 for a conference sponsored by the University of Connecticut's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

They will discuss how companies now doing business, or planning to do business, in Hong Kong should plan for life after July 1, when the Chinese government officially takes control of the city after decades of British rule. Participants are: Douglas C. Henck, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and senior vice president for Asia-Pacific operations for Aetna International; Christopher L.C. Jackson, minister of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs and a former deputy secretary to the governor of Hong Kong; Alan B. Kamman, managing director of The Global Group and study director of Corporate Hong Kong: Beyond 1997; and Denis J. Nayden, president and chief operating officer of General Electric Capital Corp.

The program, which runs from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Landmark Club, is co-sponsored by the GE Capital Learning Center at UConn, with additional funding from GE Capital and the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, Business Week and the Stamford-based Wu Associates, a global consulting firm, have provided support.

"The business opportunities are tremendous now, and they will be in the future. The business environment will not -- or, perhaps, should not -- change," said Jackson, who in April 1996 accepted a three-year appointment as head of the Hong Kong government's economic and trade office. He has been a Hong Kong civil servant since 1976.

"People are very worried," Jackson said, referring to heightened anxiety among the business community in the wake of recent regulatory changes made in Hong Kong's compact with the government by the Proprietary Committee on the Transition, an agency appointed by the Chinese government to offer advice on the turnover. "People wonder, 'Who is it for them to say what our laws will be?' But anxiety is a plus. If we were complacent... now that would be a worry. Watchfulness is the key."

Kamman, who has consulted on global issues with major corporations and governments for the past 25 years, spent a full year interviewing Hong Kong business executives and government leaders regarding their expectations for the post-British Hong Kong. The resulting study set out a variety of potential scenarios, and discussed how each might be approached.

Joining Kamman and Jackson on a morning panel is Robert J. Dowling, managing editor of Business Week International, and assistant managing editor of Business Week's North American edition. He is also responsible for Business Week's foreign language editions, Business Week China, Business Week Russia, and Business Week Poland.

Nayden, in his 20th year at GE Capital, will deliver the luncheon speech. Henck, the American Chamber of Commerce head in Hong Kong, will deliver the day's keynote speech, starting at 9 a.m.

For more information or to register for the program, call Martha Bory Culver at (860) 486-5458. The program fee, including lunch and materials, is $195.