HKEX’s bridging role more needed than ever amid fractious macro backdrop: CEO
Published: Jun 16, 2021 06:27 PM
HKEX File Photo

HKEX File Photo

As a gateway connecting markets on the Chinese mainland and around the world, the bridging role of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) will become more relevant and more needed than ever before against a fractious macro backdrop, HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin said on Wednesday as the operator of Hong Kong's stock market celebrated its 21st anniversary as a public company.

"China's economic growth and steady financial liberalization have played a key role in HKEX's growth over the past 21 years, and we remain poised to benefit from these and other macro trends in the years ahead," Aguzin wrote on his blog published on the exchange operator's website.

Over the past 21 years, the local bourse operator has become a major global exchange group. The net number of its listed companies has more than tripled to 2,550 from 790. 

HKEX recorded HK$19.2 billion ($2.47 billion) in revenues last year, compared with HK$2.3 billion in 2000, per HKEX. 

As of Friday, the Hong Kong-listed bourse operator had seen its market capitalization soar 6,810 percent in the past 21 years. 

In a sign of its rising importance as a link between the mainland and global markets, the average daily turnover of the northbound stock connect between HKEX and mainland bourses hit 126.8 billion yuan ($19.82 billion) in the first quarter of the year, while the reading for the southbound stock link amounted to HK$60.8 billion, both new highs. 

Another new quarterly record was set under the bond connect, with deals averaging 25.3 billion yuan per day.

The Hong Kong bourse has increasingly emerged as a funding conduit for new-economy companies. 

HKEX has become the No.2 market globally for biotech capital raising since the availability of its new listing rules in 2018, according to Aguzin, who pledged to make the city "a true biotech hub" for participants from across the globe. 

He also emphasized the HKEX's bright future as a sustainability leader in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and across Asia, as the bourse operator "is helping to create a transparent, diverse and deep green finance ecosystem to fuel Asia's corporate sustainability journey."

"We should have celebrated HKEX's landmark 20th anniversary if not for COVID-19," Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a virtual anniversary ceremony on Wednesday.

Lam vowed to ramp up vaccination efforts to build herd immunity. 

It has been a turbulent period since Lam was sworn in, putting to the test the city's resilience and institutional capacity, and her personal strength, she said, noting that efforts to strengthen the city's capital market are yielding results.

"We are at the heart of the most international city in China, and the most Chinese city outside of the mainland," Aguzin said in his speech to the anniversary ceremony.

Aguzin, the former head of JPMorgan's international private bank, took office as HKEX's chief executive in late May, succeeding Calvin Tai, who had been interim CEO after Charles Li's early departure at his own request at the end of last year. 

HKEX's shares edged down 0.17 percent on Wednesday while the Hang Seng Index fell 0.7 percent.  

The flagship Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.07 percent while the tech-heavy ChiNext index plunged 4.18 percent amid concerns that the Federal Reserve might rethink its stimulus amid high inflation, which could substantially dent risk appetite.

Global Times