April 26, 2018 / 4:57 AM / a month ago

Hong Kong stock exchange picks Laura Cha as new chairman

HONG KONG, April 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) named Laura Cha on Thursday as the new chairman of the stock exchange operator which this week finalised historic reforms to its listing regulations.

Cha is the first woman to hold the top role at HKEX and replaces Chow Chung Kong, who steps down after the maximum allowed six years in the role.

She is currently chairman of Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council (FSDC), a government advisory body. The new appointment, announced by HKEX in a statement, remains subject to approval from Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Her naming as HKEX chairman comes two days after the bourse operator finalised reforms of its listing regulations to allow companies with weighted voting rights structures to float in Hong Kong. The FSDC backed the reforms in its March response to an HKEX consultation, describing them as an “important step in the right direction”.

The reforms are intended to lure new-economy companies to list in Hong Kong. On Wednesday, Chow said his biggest regret from his tenure as chairman was Alibaba’s decision to list in New York rather than Hong Kong in 2014.

In 2001, Cha was appointed vice chairman of mainland Chinese regulator China Securities Regulatory Commission, the first non-mainland Chinese person to hold such a role. In 1997, she became the first female deputy chair of Hong Kong’s securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission.

Cha is a non-executive director of HSBC Holdings and also a non-executive deputy chairman of HSBC’s Hong Kong operations. The three previous chairmen of HKEX, Charles Lee, Ronald Arculli and Chow Chung Kong, each served the maximum six-year term. (Reporting by Alun David John in Hong Kong Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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