Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s founding chief executive, Joseph Yam, has emerged as the leading candidate to become the next chairman of city’s stock exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s founding chief executive, Joseph Yam, has emerged as the leading candidate to become the next chairman of city’s stock exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.
The former central banker is poised to succeed Laura Cha as chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. when her term ends in April, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussion are internal. At 74, Yam is one year older than Cha, who was the first woman to lead the Hong Kong exchange. The decision on the next chairperson isn’t final yet.
The selection of one of the biggest names in Hong Kong finance may help restore confidence in a bourse grappling with slumping stock prices and trading volumes as concerns about the weak China economy persist. The exchange is also battling a dry spell of initial public offerings despite efforts to attract Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian firms to list their stock in the city.
An HKEX spokesperson declined to comment.
In the coming months, HKEX’s board is also poised to decide on its chief executive officer. The contract of the current CEO, former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker Nicolas Aguzin, ends in May 2024, one month after Cha’s.
Yam and former Securities and Futures Commission Chairman Carlson Tong joined the exchange’s board in April. The chairmanship is subject to approval from the city’s chief executive for a maximum of six years.
Silver-haired Yam, who previously served on UBS Group AG’s board, is often called the city’s finance “czar” after he helped establish the HKMA in 1993. He’s also known for his defense of the local stock and currency markets against short sellers during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis — actions that were seen as controversial at the time but later praised from the likes of former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Yam remained active in financial circles after retiring from the HKMA in 2009, serving on both executive councils — Hong Kong’s version of a cabinet — for current leader John Lee and his predecessor Carrie Lam. He remained close with the former Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochuan, sat on China Construction Bank Corp.’s board and made regular appearances at industry events.
Yam, who’s an opera and horse-racing enthusiast, has been a vocal advocate of increasing the usage of the Chinese yuan in the city to trade stocks — something that turned into reality this year — and may help China further yuan internationalization. He has advocated linking the Hong Kong dollar to Chinese yuan publicly, though he renewed his defense of the US dollar peg lately.
Yam has also been a critic of crypto currencies, publicly speaking against the government’s crypto-friendly policy agenda, saying he wouldn’t buy any digital assets that don’t “even have a balance sheet.” He has likened crypto trading to gambling away at a casino.
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