SHANGHAI, April 7 (Reuters) - European companies in China ranked Shanghai as the most attractive city to locate their Asia-Pacific headquarters as the Chinese city provides companies with direct access to the region's biggest market, a survey showed on Thursday.
Hong Kong and Singapore ranked the second and third most preferred locations out of 15 cities examined in the survey which was conducted by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
Proximity to clients and markets was ranked as the most important criteria for the location of a regional headquarters and in which Shanghai had scored the highest mark.
The study explained that the fact that the majority of respondents were China-based might partially explain Shanghai's high score.
Despite its lead in overall attractiveness, Shanghai lagged Singapore and Hong Kong in other areas such as the legal and regulatory environment as well as the political environment.
"Foreign companies still perceive a comparatively high level of bureaucracy, face a high number of partly unclear and fast changing regulations, and are concerned about the time-consuming administrative procedures they experience," according to the survey findings.
Shanghai needs to reduce the level of bureaucracy, implement stable and reliable regulations, and adopt international monetary and transparency standards in order to realise its goal of becoming an international financial centre able to compete with New York and London by 2020, the study said.
Of the 67 survey respondents to the study, close to two-thirds already set up one or more headquarters in the region and the remaining one-third has yet to establish their Asia-Pacific headquarters.
Among the survey respondents, most of their Asia-Pacific regional headquarters are located in Singapore, followed by Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. Some have headquarters in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Guangzhou.
The European Chamber, which has more than 1,600 members in China, said it would present the findings of the survey to the authorities in Shanghai. (Reporting by Soo Ai Peng; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)