CHARLES Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), announced May 7 his intention to step down after 10 years at the helm. Li will continue to lead the exchange until his contract expires in October 2021, or earlier, should a successor be appointed before such time, according to a filing.
A former banker, Li’s departure adds to the increasing challenges facing the bourse at a turbulent time for the financial hub. He doubled revenue since taking over whilst tying the bourse closer to the mainland, and championed several key market reforms as well as pursuing acquisitions.
Before coming up short in his attempt to buy the LSE in 2019, he engineered a deal for the UK capital’s metal exchange in 2012. Li was also instrumental in linking the exchange with bourses in Shanghai and Shenzhen, allowing stock trading with the mainland, a programme that now contributes about 10% of its revenue.
However, the exchange now faces turbulent waters with political unrest and a deep economic slump in the city, while a push by China to build up its own exchanges is also a challenge to Hong Kong’s role as the main financing hub for Chinese companies.
HKEX Chairman, Laura Cha, extend her gratitude to Li for his extraordinary leadership and contribution to the Hong Kong market over the last decade, and thanked him for giving the exchange as much time as possible to ensure a smooth transition.