(ATF) Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) has announced the appointment of Nicolas Aguzin as its next chief executive for at least three years, making him the first non-Chinese to lead the HK$54 trillion institution. Aguzin will also become an ex-officio member of the HKEX Board of Directors from May 24.
Aguzin, who joins HKEX from JP Morgan, 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.
Before Li, HKEX was run by Hongkongers, including Paul Chow Man-yiu and Kwong Ki-chi. HKEX said in a statement on Tuesday that the appointment is subject to the approval of the Securities and Futures Commission.
Aguzin’s selection for the top post comes after a protracted hunt though which, according to reports, was not unanimous, with some members of the selection committee pushing for another mainlander, like Li.
Some government officials were concerned that Aguzin may not be able to continue Li’s work building connections with China’s flourishing market places and financial regulators. Last year, 98 % of the IPO funds raised in Hong Kong were by mainland Chinese firms.
But Aguzin won out on the back of his international background and network. He is currently the chief executive officer at JP Morgan’s bank’s international private banking practice, and a member of the operating committee for the firm’s asset and wealth management business.
Aguzin was also the CEO of JP Morgan’s Asia Pacific business where he oversaw and led the bank’s growth in China, and the region. Aguzin joined JP Morgan in 1990, and has held a number of other leadership roles spanning lines of business and geographies during his 30 years with the firm.
“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Aguzin as the new Chief Executive of HKEX. He brings with him a wealth of international and regional experience in capital markets and financial services, including extensive knowledge of Mainland China, having served as chief executive for JP Morgan in Asia,” said Laura M Cha, HKEX Chairman.
“This will be invaluable to us as we continue to build our business’ success, as well as drive the ongoing growth and development of Hong Kong as a leading international financial centre.”
Known to his colleagues as ‘Gucho’, Nicolas Aguzin too promised to deploy his international experience to establish Hong Kong as an international financial hub.
“HKEX has a critical role to play in the evolution of strong, resilient and interconnected global financial markets. As China’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 China with the world, and the world with China,” he said.
“I am optimistic and energised for the future and believe that with my new colleagues, we have a unique opportunity to help drive and deliver our collective global prosperity,” he added.
Aguzin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the US and has been based in Hong Kong for the last nine years.
“In recent years, HKEX has been instrumental in defining the evolution of Asian finance and has become the world’s leading IPO venue. I am excited to now have the opportunity to build on the solid foundations of innovation, impact and progress created by my predecessors,” Aguzin said.
The appointment of the private banker comes as Hong Kong is looking at strengthening its position as a wealth management hub by capitalising on expanding links between Hong Kong and other parts of the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
The area, which has a total population of 72 million, had a combined economy of $1.7 trillion – or equivalent of the world’s 11th largest economy – in 2019.
The City is also expected to introduce a new Wealth Management Connect scheme later this year, to allow GBA residents to invest in wealth management products through banks in Hong Kong and Macau,