Li urged to do more as regulator

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 5:14am

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia may have successfully diversified the local exchanges but brokers complain he has not done enough as a regulator.

"Let's not forget the HKEx still enjoys the monopoly in securities trading and it also has a frontline regulatory role to play," said Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, legislator for the financial services sector.

"HKEx does not only need to make money for shareholders but it also has the duty to promote market development, meet the needs of local brokers and protect investors."

Cheung will raise a question in today's Legislative Council meeting, asking the government to check if the stock exchange has protected the public interest in the negotiation process over Alibaba's listing plan in Hong Kong.

There have been concerns about a conflict of interest between the stock exchange's obligation to its shareholders and its role as a regulator of listings amid the debate over Alibaba. The mainland e-commerce giant has been trying to convince Hong Kong regulators to permit a partnership structure allowing its top management to nominate the majority of board members.

There have been rumours that the exchange, while officially saying "no" to Alibaba's plan, has been working with the company behind the scenes to find a way out of the impasse. The buzz is that the exchange finally had to bow to the Securities and Futures Commission's tough stance.

Cheung also plans to ask if HKEx plans to review the listing rules to attract high-technology firms. "Of course, HKEx wants the business from the Alibaba listing. But shareholder protection is more important," he said.

Li joined the exchange to take the top job in October 2009. Under him, HKEx has transformed from a pure stock and futures market operator to handle multiple business lines with major steps such as the takeover of the London Metal Exchange.

"Mr Li is a banker and a dealmaker. But, he has not done enough as a regulator. He should do more to promote market development and help brokers to cope with the tough market environment," Cheung said.