The next Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chief executive may not necessarily be a Chinese national, but someone who can speak Putonghua is preferable, according to the chairman of the exchange operator.
HKEx chairman Ronald Arculli told the South China Morning Post yesterday that the exchange has set up a search committee to find a replacement for outgoing chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu.
'This will be a tough pair of shoes to fill, as Paul has done an amazing job. He is extremely hardworking and professional,' Mr Arculli said.
Mr Chow last month said he would not renew his contract when it expires in April 2010, leaving Mr Arculli the job of finding a replacement within the next two years.
The criteria, Mr Arculli said, must include someone with a financial or technology background but the candidate need not have the experience of running an exchange. 'We would consider those with a banking or asset management background. In fact, Paul was the former head of HSBC's asset management arm.'
While some believe the next chief executive must be Chinese in order to keep in close contact with mainland authorities, Mr Arculli disagrees.
'I don't think the successor must be a Chinese. Of course it is highly desirable but not essential. We would not rule out talent with a non-Chinese background.' He said having Putonghua language skill would be a consideration.
Mr Chow has been in the post since 2003. Last year, he earned HK$14.13 million in salary and bonuses, up 27 per cent from a year earlier, making him the highest-paid regulator.