HKEX to welcome first non-Chinese CEO amid opportunities, challenges
Published: May 23, 2021 07:43 PM
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange building  Photo: VCG

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange building Photo: VCG

The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) is set to welcome its first non-Chinese CEO on Monday, at a time when the exchange is seeing more mainland firms seeking secondary IPOs in the city amid a US clampdown.

Alejandro Nicolas Aguzin will replace Charles Li Xiaojia as the new chief executive on Monday, according to the HKEX. His term will run until May 23, 2024.

As the first non-Chinese person to head the HKEX, Aguzin joins the company from JP Morgan, where he has held a number of leadership roles spanning lines of business and parts of the world during his 30 years with the firm.

"His broad experience in greater China, the Americas and globally, makes him extremely well-placed to lead the HKEX as we enter a post-COVID world, with the many opportunities and challenges that this will bring," said HKEX Chairman Laura M Cha.

In 2020, the HKEX welcomed 154 companies, setting a new fundraising record of HK$400.2 billion ($51.54 billion), up 27 percent from 2019. More than 60 percent of total fundraising during 2020 was done by new-economy companies. 

The exchange has observed a clear trend of secondary listings by mainland companies in Hong Kong following that of Alibaba. Since 2019, dozens of US-listed companies, including NetEase and, have chosen Hong Kong for secondary listings.

Under the terms of his contract, Aguzin's compensation package includes a basic salary of HK$10 million per annum, the highest among all HKEX heads.

In the era of Aguzin, the HKEX is expected to welcome more secondary listings by large mainland companies, due to its connectivity with international and mainland markets, and more inclusive and relaxed listing requirements, Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In addition to being a secondary IPO market, the HKEX under Aguzin may strive to attract more mainland enterprises for IPOs as a strong competitor to NASDAQ, Dong added.

"It is expected that the HKEX may give mainland enterprises a more relaxed IPO policy in the future," he said.

However, a proposed hike in the stamp duty by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government could be a challenge for Aguzin, Dong said.

In February, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced plans to raise the stamp duty on stock transactions by 0.13 percent from the current 0.1 percent, triggering a wild selloff and sending HKEX shares plunging.