American Club in Hong Kong to address concerns over controversial membership policy


25th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) The American Club, an exclusive institution in Hong Kong, will convene a board meeting next Monday to address concerns raised regarding its recent policy change. The new policy mandates non-U.S. members to pay up to HK$1.5 million (US$192,100) to retain their memberships or face expulsion.

The club’s response comes after the controversial membership changes made headlines three days ago. In a sudden policy shift, club president Christopher Burgess announced in a letter dated 31st May that non-American individual debenture holders would need to top up their membership by up to HK$1.5 million or face termination of their club affiliation.

According to sources, some members are seeking legal counsel to assess the fairness of the decision to redeem the debentures through such an abrupt action.

Members are required to submit declarations of their intentions by 31st August. Failure to comply or pay the initial instalment of the top-up amount will result in the redemption of their debentures at face value and cancellation of their membership on 1st September.

The American Club had issued debentures of varying values between 1985 and 2007 as a medium-term debt instrument to finance significant development projects. Non-American members are required to purchase a debenture and pay a membership fee ranging from HK$1.6 million to HK$2 million.

Burgess stated that the policy change was driven by the club’s objective to enhance its membership profile and maintain its non-profit tax status, which necessitates that 50% or more of the club’s operating revenues come from voting American members.

The implementation of this policy change could result in a reduction in the number of non-voting non-American individual members, which currently stands at 500.