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Aguzin will make history as the first non-Chinese person to be chief executive of the HKEX since its establishment in 2000. Photo: Bloomberg

Nicolas Aguzin will get US$13.67 million in salary and shares, as incoming HKEX chief becomes one of the highest paid regulators

  • The former JPMorgan banker will get a HK$10 million basic salary and shares worth HK$96.05 million as of Friday’s closing price
  • If he receives a bonus, his pay may well surpass that of his predecessor Charles Li Xiaojia, who took home HK$120.49 million in 2020
The new boss of Hong Kong’s stock exchange, Nicolas Aguzin, will become the highest paid regulator in the city with a total pay package of at least HK$106.05 million (US$13.67 million) when he takes office on Monday.
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX)’s incoming chief executive will receive a HK$10 million basic salary, which is 7.4 per cent higher than his predecessor Charles Li Xiaojia’s HK$9.315 million, the exchange announced on Friday. He will serve a term of three years.

The former JPMorgan banker will also be awarded 211,756 shares of HKEX, worth HK$96.05 million as of Friday’s close at HK$453.6 per share. The shares will vest equally in the next two years, meaning half will become cashable after one year of service and half after his second.

The exchange said the shares are “compensation for loss of unvested long-term incentives earned through his service with his previous employer”.

Known affectionately as “Gucho” to his colleagues, the 52-year-old Argentinian has spent three decades at JPMorgan and was most recently chief executive of its international private bank and a member of the operating committee overseeing the lender’s asset and wealth management operations.

HKEX said he will get other benefits including a discretionary bonus and more shares based on his performance.

If he does get a bonus, his pay may well surpass that of Li, who stepped down from the post in December after heading the exchange for more than a decade.

Li received a total of HK$120.49 million in 2020, which included his basic salary, benefits, bonus and awarded shares. He received a bonus of HK$80 million and HK$23.77 million worth of shares when he retired from the exchange.

Li’s final year’s pay package was more than double the HK$51 million he took home in 2019.

Last year, Hong Kong ­Monetary Authority chief executive ­Eddie Yue Wai-man earned HK$10.32 million, while Securities and Futures Commission chief executive Ashley Alder took home HK$10.24 million.

The exchange operator closed 0.9 per cent lower on Friday at HK$453.6. Its share have risen 77 per cent in the last year.

Aguzin will make history as the first non-Chinese person to be the chief executive of the HKEX since its establishment in 2000. He is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish, but not Mandarin.

The exchange wanted to tap his international network as his JPMorgan career took him to New York, Buenos Aires and Hong Kong.

He will work with the governments of Hong Kong and Beijing to further expand a series of cross-border investment channels that have allowed global investors to trade mainland shares and bonds, and Chinese investors to trade Hong Kong stocks.

One of his main tasks will be to boost the amount of capital flowing through the “southbound” channel of the bond connect link – mainland investors buying Hong Kong bonds.

Aguzin may also identify new acquisition targets for HKEX, which in February became the first overseas investor to be allowed to buy a stake in a mainland Chinese bourse, when it took a 7 per cent stake in the newly formed Guangzhou Futures Exchange.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: New bourse boss to get HK$106.05m pay package