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Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) CEO Nicolas Aguzin. Photo: SCMP/Jelly Tse

Hong Kong has potential to be a health tech hub in Greater Bay Area, with lots of ‘growth opportunities’, says HKEX CEO Aguzin

  • Nicolas Aguzin emphasised that the city’s greatest ability remains its role as a gateway for mainland Chinese investors
  • Hong Kong retains a key role in mobilising capital for health research and innovation, said Aguzin
HKEX

Healthcare is currently one of the most promising and attractive sectors to invest in with high growth potential, Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX), told an audience of business leaders and industry experts.

“It’s a really interesting sector with a lot of growth opportunities,” said Aguzin on Thursday, speaking at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Asia Summit of Global Health. He added that the city’s greatest ability remained its role as a gateway for mainland Chinese investors.

Hong Kong has the potential to be a health technology hub in the Greater Bay Area and it retains a key role in mobilising capital for health research and innovation, said Aguzin.

With all major international investors having a position in Hong Kong as well as the city’s Stock Connect scheme, the city has a massive “competitive advantage”, said Aguzin. The Stock Connect scheme allows investors to conduct cross border stock trading between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

HKEX boss reassures global investors on China’s ambition and openness

Aguzin said whereas HKEX had previously focused on attracting Chinese companies to its stock exchange in the city, it now wants to entice international healthcare companies to list or have a secondary listing here.

While rising interest rates, higher inflation and geopolitical tensions have been major factors haunting the global economy this year, as countries bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, Aguzin said investors should not be deterred.

“Hong Kong is the equivalent of having a combination of Silicon Valley and Wall Street all in one, we are in the most exciting place at the one of the most exciting times,” said Aguzin.

With healthcare, regulatory frameworks have supported the growth of the biotech ecosystem, such as the introduction of chapter 18A, which has enabled pre-revenue biotech companies that fell outside traditional listing regimes to list in Hong Kong.

“The [chapter 18A] regulatory framework attracted companies that needed capital to grow and to create great drugs and great new products,” said Aguzin.

Over 100 healthcare companies have listed in Hong Kong since 2018, raising over HK$100 billion, said Aguzin. The city has access to top talent and universities, and in four years has become the second-largest fundraising hub in the world for biotech companies, he added.

Hong Kong stock exchange thrives on China card as Aguzin builds new road map

This year, over 70 companies have listed on the HKEX so far raising about HK$85 billion (US$13.8 billion), which Aguzin said was a “pretty good performance” considering it was one of the “toughest markets in decades”.

Dr Jinsong Ni, founder and CEO of Cloundbreak Pharma, speaking in a panel after Aguzin’s fireside chat, said healthcare companies could achieve success in collaboration with others.

“Biotech companies rely on collaboration with not only the industry itself, but also with the country’s regulatory bodies,” said Ni. Biotech companies require clinical trials, which need the approval of local regulators, added Ni.

The CEO of Israeli-headquartered company Sisram Medical Lior Dayan said that the pandemic had created supply chain issues, which naturally impacted the industry.

Yet Dayan believes there is still optimism, as the pandemic has fuelled a trend where people care much more about personal well-being.

“Over the last few years the health system has moved from illness into wellness, and people are being more proactive to try and take care of [themselves],” said Dayan.

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