May 07, 2020 06:39 PM

Hong Kong Exchange Chief to Step Down by Next Year

Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.
Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.

Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEx), has informed the company’s board that he intends not to seek reappointment as chief executive at the end of his current contract, according to a Thursday filing to HKEx.

Li, 58, confirmed that he will continue to lead the major Asian exchange group until October 2021 date, though he is willing to step aside earlier if a successor gets appointed before then, the filing said.

HKEx Chairwoman Laura Cha expressed her gratitude to Li and said in the filing that “the board is confident that the succession process will be smooth.”

The announcement of Li’s departure came soon after HKEx released its first-quarter earnings report, which disclosed its net profit fell 13% year-on-year. “We have not been unaffected by the macroeconomic conditions however, with the significant fall in global portfolio valuations impacting our investment income, though we have, and continue to take steps to de-risk our collective investment schemes,” Li said in the report.

HKEx has formed a selection committee, led by Cha, to find a successor to Li, according to the filing. In December, Li sold more than half of his shares in HKEx for HK$166.7 million ($21.5 million), cutting his holding to 0.03% from 0.08%.

Li was named HKEx chief executive in January 2010 and has since been reappointed three times, making him the longest-serving head of the company since it went public in 2000.

During Li’s tenure with HKEx, the company started stock and bond connect programs that allowed investors in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland to trade on each other’s markets. It also implemented a dual-class share IPO system that allows listed companies to have different types of shares that correspond with different voting rights, and lured money-losing biotech companies to list.

In light of the reforms Li carried out, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which went public in New York in 2014, made a secondary listing in Hong Kong last November in what company Chairman Daniel Zhang called a homecoming listing.

Wei Yiyang contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (

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