Usual picks expected to replace HKEx directors

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing's 13-member board will undergo a big reshuffle on Thursday as the terms of at least five directors expire. The big question is: will bean counters and legal eagles continue to dominate the board?

Those exiting this week include two shareholder-elected directors and three government appointees.

HKEx, the holding company of the stock exchange, futures exchange and related clearing houses, has a special board structure that includes chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu, six government-appointed directors and six elected by shareholders.

Besides Mr Chow, all directors receive HK$300,000 a year.

Half of the government-named team including former Citic Pacific managing director Henry Fan Hung-ling and accountant Fong Hup will see their term end and will not be retained after staying for six years.

Another government-appointed director, Marvin Cheung Kin-tung, will also retire but can technically be reappointed, as he has been on board for only four years.


Brokers speculate the new faces are likely to be the usual picks - lawyers and accountants. Of the six government appointees, Mr Fan, HKEx chairman Ronald Arculli, Moses Cheng Mo-chi and Laura Cha Shih May-lung are lawyers; Mr Fong and Mr Cheung are accountants.

The government gets a second bite of the cherry in the election, as it is the single largest shareholder, with a 5.88 per cent stake, and thus will help fill two vacancies from three nominated candidates.

The three include incumbent John Williamson, a managing director of Robert Miller private investment arm Search Investment Group; Chan Tze-ching, a former head of Citigroup Hong Kong and now a consultant at Bank of East Asia; and Gilbert Chu Kwok-tsu, a former Sun Hung Kai Securities executive director.

Many brokers including Mr Chu himself believe he will not be successful in his third bid for a seat, as he no longer works in the brokerage industry and does not have strong backers. 'My participation is a call to shareholders that they must address an urgent need to overhaul HKEx. Failing that, the HKEx, and therefore Hong Kong, will be marginalised,' he said.


Mr Chan is a new face to the HKEx but a familiar one to bankers, with almost 30 years of experience in the sector. 'My banking experience would be useful in setting policies and launching new products. The border between banks and securities companies is getting blurred. Many banks are selling the same products and services as securities companies.'

Mr Chan resigned as deputy chief executive of Bank of China (Hong Kong) for health reasons after only two months in the job. He has recovered now. 'BEA chairman David Li Kwok-po is very supportive of my campaign and has agreed to offer help to canvass,' he said.


Investment climate check

Our video report guest this week is Virginie Maisonneuve, the head of global equities at Schroders. We are interested in this investment expert's views about the market.

Ms Maisonneuve says five major elements will affect the investment environment: population change, climate change, emerging markets, health and premium goods.