HKEX chief Charles Li to step down in 2021

Charles Li will not seek re-election as chief executive in October 2021 after leading the exchange since January 2010.

The long-standing chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) is set to step down from his position by October 2021, after 12 years leading the exchange group.

HKEX said in a statement that Charles Li would not seek re-election as chief executive at the end of his current contract in October 2021. The exchange added that Li would continue in the role until that date, even if a successor is chosen before then.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Charles for his extraordinary leadership and contribution to the Hong Kong market over the last decade, and to thank him on behalf of the Board, for giving us as much time as possible to ensure a smooth transition,” said Laura M Cha, HKEX chairman. “The Board is confident that the succession process will be smooth and orderly and that the Group is on a strong foundation.”

Under Li’s leadership, HKEX has looked to expand access to markets in Asia with Stock Connect trading links in Shenzhen and Shanghai. HKEX also made several key acquisitions, including the £1.4 billion acquisition of the London Metal Exchange in 2012.

More recently in September 2019, Li boldly bid £32 billion to acquire the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), which was quickly rejected by LSEG following tension from both groups, as LSEG criticised the surprising nature of the bid.

At a conference shortly after, Li urged LSEG’s CEO, David Schwimmer, to reconsider the deal as the world needs a markets infrastructure that connects both the east and west, which he has long-championed. HKEX eventually withdrew its pursuit of the LSEG, as Li expressed his disappointment at being unable to seal the deal.

“We still believe the strategic rationale for the combination of our two businesses is compelling and would create a world-leading market infrastructure group,” Li said at the time.

Elsewhere, HKEX revealed its first quarter 2020 revenue declined 7% compared to the same period in 2019. Although, Stock Connect revenues reached a record quarterly high of $404 million, up a significant 74% year-on-year. Northbound and Southbound average daily trading volumes reached a record RMB78 billion and RMB21.6 billion respectively.