The Hong Kong government has appointed two financial heavyweights as directors of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX), a move likely to help the bourse operator promote its yuan businesses and international listings. Former Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) CEO Joseph Yam Chi-kwong and former Securities and Futures Commission chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing will join the HKEX’s board of directors for a two-year term starting on April 26. They replace Rafael Gil-Tienda and Stephen Yiu who are retiring. Since the HKEX is both a commercial entity and a front-line regulator, the composition of its 13-member board of directors is unique – the government appoints six directors, shareholders elect six and it also includes the CEO. “[Yam’s] expertise and varied experiences in the money market and financial services fields will help the HKEX expand its businesses and strengthen risk management,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in a statement on Friday announcing the appointments. Chan said during Yam’s tenure at the HKMA, many reforms were introduced which helped to develop Hong Kong into the world’s largest offshore yuan trading centre. Yam was the CEO of the HKMA, Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, from its establishment in 1993 until 2009. He has also been a non-official member of the Executive Council, Hong Kong’s cabinet, since 2017. Yam said he would work with other directors to “safeguard the interests of investors and promote the business of the HKEX”. “I will assist the government to promote Hong Kong as an international financial centre, ensure financial stability and lead Hong Kong to join the country’s growth,” Yam told the Post in a statement. Yam has been instrumental in pushing for the development of yuan-related businesses, including the HKEX’s plan to introduce yuan-denominated shares for mainlanders to trade in the first half of this year. Tong, a 30-year veteran accountant, was the SFC chairman from 2012 to 2018. Before that, he was the chairman of KPMG China from 2007 to 2011 and also headed the HKEX’s listing committee from 2006 to 2008. “[Tong’s] immense knowledge of and experiences in the operation of the financial market and regulation of securities-related activities will contribute to the HKEX in further enhancing its competitiveness and expanding its business,” Chan said. During Tong’s tenure, the SFC tightened oversight of the market, issuing nearly HK$4 billion (US$509.6 million) in fines and compensation in several high-profile cases of insider dealing, false disclosure, failure of internal controls, mis-selling and other wrongdoings. “Hong Kong has an important role to play as a leading international financial centre, and the HKEX is part of this important mission,” Tong told the Post in a statement. HKEX posts best fourth quarter as post-Covid bounce fuels trading The HKEX, which reported its best fourth-quarter results on Thursday, is keen to attract more international firms to list here following the opening of an office in New York in December. HKEX CEO Nicolas Aguzin said many international companies had shown an interest in the plan announced by the China Securities Regulatory Commission in December to allow Hong Kong listed international firms to be added to the stock connect schemes for mainland investors to trade. The exact launch date is yet to be announced. Separately, the SFC on Friday said the planned move to reduce the stock connect trading holidays will take effect from April 24. Global money managers will probably get up to five additional days annually to trade yuan-denominated stocks, while mainland investors could get about eight extra days to trade Hong Kong-listed stocks, analysts said.