Charles Li
Chief Executive Officer
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing

Since 2010, when Charles Li moved into the top job at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, he and his board have laid out a succession of three-year plans. The first set a goal of getting into commodities, which was met with the 2012 acquisition of London Metal Exchange (LME) for $2.2 billion. The second was a blueprint for a market linkage to mainland China, Shanghai–Hong Kong Stock Connect, which launched in 2014 and is expected to be replicated this year for Shenzhen. The third plan, released in January, is “our most ambitious yet,” says the 54-year-old CEO. It covers opportunities in fixed income, currencies and commodities, including a “bond connect” to the mainland and, more broadly, establishing Hong Kong as a truly global money and capital market center. “Our new motto is ‘connecting China with the world, reshaping the global market landscape,’” says Li, who has a law degree from Columbia University and served in top China posts for Merrill Lynch & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. before joining HKEx’s management in 2009. On the equity front he will be starting a campaign to attract secondary listings of global companies to the Hong Kong exchange. In commodities he aims to leverage the “connect” model with LME “to create an effective spot trading platform, thereby ‘physicalizing’ the mainland’s commodities market,” he says. “In time, the platform could generate a series of globally influential China price benchmarks and provide a solid foundation for the sustained development of commodity futures trading either onshore or in Hong Kong.” The planned bond connect, Li adds, could “attract investors and liquidity to support the future development of more interest rate and exchange rate derivatives.” HKEx will be building further on investments it made over the past three years to transform its core technology, the CEO says: “We have moved from reliance on proprietary technology to an open systems platform,” which, he notes, has become a “de facto standard” across the financial industry. “We are actively evaluating the adoption of cloud computing for our technology stack, especially for new projects such as the spot commodity-trading platform we plan to launch on the mainland.”

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