Hong Kong 2003
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Companies Registry

The Companies Registry administers and enforces the major part of the Companies Ordinance. The Registry incorporates local companies, registers overseas companies, registers documents required to be submitted by registered companies and provides facilities for search of company records. It also administers and enforces several other ordinances including the Trustee Ordinance, insofar as it relates to trust companies, the Registered Trustees Incorporation Ordinance and the Limited Partnerships Ordinance. The Registry is also responsible for a wide range of legal, policy and regulatory issues, including the ongoing work under the Companies Ordinance and corporate governance reviews.

Since 1993, the Companies Registry has operated as a trading fund department. Therefore, the Registry can keep most of its income and deploy it flexibly, having regard to its needs, business turnover and its customers' demands and expectations. The department achieved a surplus of $40.4 million in the 2002-03 financial year. The substantial surplus generated over the past years has built up a healthy reserve, protected the department from the adverse impact of the economic downturn and helped finance the department's development projects.

The Registry has continued with its implementation of the Strategic Change Plan (SCP) to transform the department into a fully computerised Registry by early 2006 and enable electronic delivery of services in filing, processing, storing and obtaining documents or information. The implementation of the SCP will lead to a significant reduction in the time taken to process documents, more timely updating and disclosure of company information, improved quality of information, enhanced data security and integrity and higher productivity at reduced operating costs. The core initiative of the SCP is the development of an Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS) in two phases. The first phase includes the replacement of the existing computer systems, document imaging, conversion of microfilm records and online searches on current data and digitised images of registered company documents kept in the Registry's database. The second phase will include the implementation of online document registration and company incorporation. Development of Phase I of ICRIS is under way. It is anticipated that Phase I of ICRIS will be implemented in the third quarter of 2004.

In 2003, 50 049 new companies were incorporated. During the year, the total nominal capital of new companies registered was $49.08 billion and 5 778 companies increased their nominal capital by $681.41 billion. At year-end, 497 406 local companies were on the register, compared with 503 111 in 2002.

Companies incorporated overseas must register certain documents with the Registry within one month of establishing a place of business in Hong Kong. During 2003, 724 of these were registered. At year-end, 6 983 companies from 82 countries were registered.

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