Familiar with challenges

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am


Chow Chung-kong, the likely incoming chairman of the city's stock market operator - which faces strong competition from private trading platforms and mainland stock exchanges - is no stranger to challenges.

In the past eight years, Chow has been at the helm of MTR Corporation, dealing with several notable challenges. Shortly after joining as chief executive in 2003, the MTR was hit by service delays due to signalling problems, arson attacks and short circuits. Four years later he oversaw the merger of MTR with the century-old Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, with fare concessions for 2.8 million passengers.

In 2010, a public furore erupted following revelations that the issuer of the popular Octopus smart cards, whose largest shareholder is MTR, reaped HK$44 million from selling the personal information of 1.97 million cardholders to other companies. Chow apologised repeatedly to the public.

Nevertheless, Chow has been touted as among Hong Kong's most successful executives on the world stage. Recruited to be the head of British engineering giant GKN in 1996, Chow led the 250-year-old firm to new heights and received a knighthood in recognition of his work.

But his stewardship of a merger in 2001 between a GKN unit and Brambles, its Australian joint-venture partner, saw shares of the consolidated firm dive by as much as 60 per cent under his two-year tenure.

However, analysts were divided about whether Chow was to blame for the disappointing performance of the merged entity.