HKEX names Bonnie Chan as its first woman chief executive, succeeding Nicolas Aguzin as head of Asia’s third-largest stock market

“Having worked non-stop for the last 34 years and recently become an ‘empty nester’, I still feel healthy, young and full of energy – so I want to take some time to reflect, regroup and make plans for the future.”

Chan, a former partner at law firm Davis Polk, joined HKEX as head of listings in January 2020 and was promoted to her current role on February 1 to oversee group strategy, human resources, mainland Chinese development and LME Clear.

“As the world pivots East, as exciting developments in new technologies and ways of working evolve, and as we work together to address major challenges such as climate change and a fragile global economic backdrop, the opportunities for HKEX remain immense,” she said in a statement.

Chan says the opportunities ahead for HKEX are ‘immense’. Photo: Winson Wong

Chan’s appointment comes at a time when HKEX is encouraging gender diversity. The bourse operator introduced a new listing rule in January 2022, mandating that companies with all-male boards must introduce at least one woman board member by the end of 2024. Research shows greater board diversity can help firms make better decisions and improve governance, HKEX added.

Chan was executive director of legal and compliance at Morgan Stanley from 2003 to 2007, before first joining HKEX as head of IPO transactions in 2007. She moved to Davis Polk as partner in 2010 before returning to the bourse operator in 2020.

“We hope the new CEO will continue to develop the market, to enhance protection of investors, as well as to make it easier for companies to raise funds,” said Stephen Hui Chiu-chung, chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based broker Luk Fook Financial Services.

HKEX co-chief operating officer Wilfred Yiu. Photo: Enoch Yiu

Yiu, a former Goldman Sachs banker, joined HKEX in 2019 as head of markets and was promoted to his current role on February 1 to oversee cash and derivatives trading.

Before joining the bourse operator, he was chairman of Qian Kun Futures from 2012 to 2019. From 2007 to 2010, he served as managing director of fixed income, currency and commodities at Goldman, having spent the previous five years at Credit Suisse First Boston in New York.

Aguzin, 54, known to his colleagues as “Gucho”, joined HKEX on May 24, 2021, on a three-year contract. The bourse operator headhunted him while he was the CEO of JPMorgan’s international private bank. Before that, he was chairman and CEO of the US bank’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Aguzin during the listing ceremony of the CSOP Saudi Arabia exchange-traded fund at HKEX in this file photo from November 29. Photo: Edmond So

An Argentine, Aguzin is the first non-ethnic Chinese to lead Hong Kong’s exchange operator since the modern bourse’s establishment in 2000. He is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

Aguzin succeeded Charles Li Xiaojia, who was HKEX’s longest serving CEO with a term of 11 years. His appointment came as part of HKEX’s efforts to go international, to which Aguzin has contributed by helping the firm set up offices in New York in June and London in September.

During his tenure, the bourse operator also signed separate agreements with stock exchanges in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia this year to explore opportunities in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Aguzin has visited the Middle East several times with HKEX chairwoman Laura Cha Shih May-lung to attract investment from the oil-rich region.

“On behalf of the HKEX board, I would like to thank Nicolas for leading HKEX during a very challenging period,” Cha said on Friday. “He has played a major role in driving the promotion of Hong Kong’s financial markets internationally during this time, restarting dialogue and connectivity in a post-Covid world and ensuring that HKEX was very much seen as open-for-business.

“We fully respect his decision to pursue new opportunities and we wish him all the very best for the future. We look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”


HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin on the future of Hong Kong’s capital market

HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin on the future of Hong Kong’s capital market

The first Saudi Arabian ETF was listed in the city on November 29, and the two-day FII Priority Hong Kong conference was organised by the Future Investment Initiative Institute – a think tank backed by Saudi sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund – was held at HKEX’s Connect Hall on December 7 and 8.

Aguzin is also responsible for the launch of listing reforms in April that allow pre-revenue Big Tech companies to list in Hong Kong, as well as the introduction of yuan shares counters in June and the FINI digital IPO platform in November. Last year, he introduced a special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) listing regime in Hong Kong.

His tenure also coincided with one of the most challenging periods in Hong Kong’s stock market, where the Covid-19 pandemic combined with a reversal in zero interest rates to sap investors’ appetite for stock sales.

Who is Nicolas Aguzin, the former JPMorgan banker set to lead HKEX?

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng stock index fell 54 per cent from its 2020 peak shortly before his tenure began, as rising US Federal Reserve rates sucked capital back to the US market. Shares of HKEX, which are themselves listed on the Hong Kong exchange, fell 40 per cent during his tenure, wiping out HK$220 billion (US$28.2 billion) in value.

“It was a challenging three years for Aguzin, as we first had the Covid-19 pandemic and then the interest rates rose, which has hurt the market and IPOs,” said Katerine Kou, CEO of Victory Securities and chairwoman of the Hong Kong Securities Association.

The Hong Kong exchange has hosted 61 new share listings as of November 17 this year, raising HK$41.3 billion, according to EY. The number of deals has dropped 19 per cent year on year, while proceeds from offerings have fallen 59 per cent year on year – levels last seen 20 years ago.

In contrast, under the stewardship of Li, his predecessor, HKEX’s stock rose 2.2 per cent in the first three years, and 190 per cent over his tenure as CEO from January 16, 2010 to December 31, 2020.

Additional reporting by Zhang Shidong

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