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JPMorgan’s Aguzin named CEO of Hong Kong stock exchange

Nicolas Aguzin (GIULIA MARCHI/BLOOMBERG)

Hong Kong’s stock exchange named Nicolas Aguzin, who heads JPMorgan Chase & Co’s international private bank, as its new chief executive officer.

After a protracted search, the 52-year-old banker was appointed to a three-year term as the top boss at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, according to a statement issued by the bourse on Tuesday. He will replace Charles Li, also a former JPMorgan banker, who announced his resignation in May and left at the end of last year after a decade at the helm.

READ MORE: HKEX chief Li to step down at end of 2020, ahead of plan

“Aguzin’s extensive experience in Hong Kong, mainland China, Asia and globally, and his deep knowledge of global capital markets, will help HKEX continue to build its competitiveness,” the company said in a statement. It will “support the ongoing growth and development of Hong Kong’s unique financial markets,” it said.

Aguzin’s extensive experience in Hong Kong, mainland China, Asia and globally, and his deep knowledge of global capital markets, will help HKEX continue to build its competitiveness.

HKEx

In its long search, the board had been split between picking a candidate who can operate with confidence in the Chinese mainland or one with a strong international background, people familiar have said. Aguzin, known as “Gucho,” will start on May 24, subject to approval by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

While not from Hong Kong, or the Chinese mainland like his predecessor, the Argentine-native is well-connected in the region after serving as JPMorgan’s chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific from 2012 to 2020. Before that he led the bank in Latin America and held various senior investment banking roles after joining the US bank as a financial analyst in 1990.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to lead the world’s largest stock market group, especially at such an important time for global financial markets,” Aguzin said.

I am deeply honored to be asked to lead the world’s largest stock market group, especially at such an important time for global financial markets.

Nicolas Aguzin, new CEO of HKEx

As the mainland’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 the mainland with the world, he said.

The incoming CEO will need to build on Li’s success over the past years in linking the exchange closer to the Chinese mainland, while also facing increased competition from mainland bourses in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

He’ll be working under chairman Laura Cha.

HKEX’s shares close 0.8 percent lower at HK$514.5 in Hong Kong, paring this year’s gain to 21 percent.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon congratulated Aguzin on his “important new role.”

“Gucho is an outstanding leader and human being who has led businesses around the world for JPMorgan Chase with distinction over the past three decades,” he said in a statement.

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Li was dubbed “Mr. China” for linking the bourse closer to the mainland and helping open doors for foreign investors. The exchange’s revenue doubled during his tenure and its stock has surged ahead of the broader market.

Li’s major setback, however, was the failed attempt to take over the London Stock Exchange Group Plc in 2019. The failed 29.6 billion-pound (US$40 billion) bid has dented appetite for making the bourse more of a global institution, which was one of the four targets Li set for this tenure, a person has said.

In an interview with Bloomberg in December, Li said the CEO’s job is all about “steering conflict” both in Hong Kong and on the mainland, but also one that entails taking risks. Tightening links further with the mainland is the “irreversible” path for the bourse, he said.

 

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