HKEX appoints Alejandro Nicolas Aguzin as chief executive, the first non-Chinese to lead the exchange
Published: Feb 09, 2021 06:26 PM

Alejandro Nicolas Aguzin

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) has announced the appointment of Alejandro Nicolas Aguzin as its chief executive on Tuesday, making Aguzin set to become the first non-Chinese to lead the HK$54 trillion institution.

Analysts said the appointment of Aguzin, coming on heels a year of social unrest that has shaken some foreign investors' confidence in the city and the local economy being battered by the coronavirus outbreak, is widely expected to deploy his international experience to reinforce the city's role as an international financial hub and cement its investment connectivity with the Chinese mainland.

HKEX said in a statement on its website on Tuesday that the appointment is effective 24 May 2021 for a term of three years until 23 May 2024, subject to the approval of the Securities and Futures Commission. Aguzin will replace Charles Li Xiaojia, who announced plans quit the role in May last year.

Aguzin will also become an ex-officio member of the HKEX Board of Directors effective 24 May 2021. He is set to become the fourth chief executive of HKEX. Prior to Li, the bourses had been led by Paul Chow Man-yiu and Kwong Ki-chi, both local Hongkongers.

Aguzin joins HKEX from JP Morgan, where he is currently CEO of JP Morgan's International Private Bank. From 2012 to 2020, Aguzin was the CEO of JP Morgan's Asia Pacific, where he oversaw and led JP Morgan's growth in China and the region, and had expanded the firm's revenue from the region from $5.6 billion in 2012 to $7.3 billion in 2019.

Laura M Cha, HKEX Chairman, stressed at a media conference on Tuesday that the HKEX's strategy toward the Chinese mainland will be building on previous direction and will not change.

 "As China's economy and capital markets continue to open, HKEX will become ever more relevant, facilitating anticipated significant new flows of capital, and supporting the strong demand for capital to fuel growth, acting as a catalyst that connects China with the world, and the world with China," Aguzin was quoted in the HKEX statement. 

Dong Dengxin, director of the Financial Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday that an urgent task for the new executive is to deepen its ties with the capital market in the Chinese mainland, and to collaborate with the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses in a synergistic way to improve its international standing to be comparable with the NASDAQ.

"Also, Aguzin needs to restore and rebuild foreign institutional investors' confidence, as some foreign capital has fled from the city over negative impact from social unrest," Dong said. 

Foreign institutions account for about 40 percent of transactions in the HKEX, according to media reports.