Ronald Arculli yesterday was re-elected by fellow board members as chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing for another two years until April 2010.
His reappointment was made in the first board meeting of 13 directors after the HKEx shareholders on Thursday re-elected Bill Kwok Chi-piu and Vincent Lee Kwan-ho as directors in the annual general meeting of the exchange.
Mr Arculli, who runs his own law firm, has been chairman of the exchange for the past two years. In his new term, he will face several challenges including the need to find a successor for chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu, who has indicated he would not renew his contract when it expires also at the end of April 2010.
Mr Chow has been in the post since 2003; he was also former chief executive of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong from 1991 to 1997.
'This would be one of the most hectic jobs for Mr Arculli as HKEx chairman for the next two years,' said Kenny Lee Yiu-sun, chairman of the Hong Kong Stockbrokers Association.
'There are few people who have the same experience as Mr Chow, who are as familiar in the management of the exchange and are well connected with China.'
Besides the succession planning, the 69-year-old chairman would also lead the exchange amid growing competition from Shanghai and while competing for the listing of high-quality firms.
He also faces the challenge of how to relate with the government, which is now the single biggest shareholder of the exchange with a 5.88 per cent stake. The government exercised its vote in Thursday's election, a factor that was believed to have helped Vincent Lee beat private banker candidate Bob Bunker. This has raised concerns that the government's influence may affect the independence of the exchange.
However, Kenny Lee believes Mr Arculli can handle the exchange's relationship with the government well. 'Mr Arculli is an Executive Council member. He should be able to act as a bridge between the government and the exchange,' Mr Lee said.