Competition Heats Up Among Asian Executives: AAET 2017

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was the only firm to sweep its industry in Institutional Investor’s 2017 ranking of the region’s top executives.


When asked to choose the best executives in Asia ex-Japan, analysts and money managers covering the region were torn.

In the survey to determine Institutional Investor’s 2017 All-Asia Executive Team, respondents chose only one firm as the top contender in every category of its sector: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. earned best CEO, best CFO, best investor relations professional, and best investor relations company in the region’s technology/semiconductors division — the only company to earn the distinction of sweeping its industry.

In every other industry, first-place spots went to two or more firms in what proved to be a fiercely competitive year.

In the gaming and lodging industry, MGM China Holdings placed first again for its CEO Grant Bowie, investor relations head Sidney Luk, and overall investor relations team, solidifying its position as first overall. But Galaxy Entertainment Group nabbed the best CFO distinction with finance executive Robert Drake.

Similarly, transportation firm Kerry Logistics Network topped every category in its industry except for best CFO, which went to Hong Kong-based Pacific Basin Shipping’s Andrew Broomhead. China State Construction International Holdings also won first in every category in the industrials division except best CFO, which was awarded to Chinese conglomerate Fosun International’s Can Wang.

Wing Kai (William) Ma, who was voted best CEO for his role as group managing director at Kerry Logistics Network, points to the firm’s ongoing expansion plan and recent acquisitions as some of its key drivers of success, improving its scale and capabilities. As of the beginning of 2016, the company was located in 40 countries and territories — a number that has now grown to 51.

The IR team, led by Cheryl Yeung, has also grown substantially since it was first established at the time of Kerry Logistics’ public listing three years ago.

“The team has increased efforts in every aspect of investor relations function since then,” Ma says. “On a broader scale, the team consistently promotes greater transparency and communication with the investment community.”

A spokesman for China State Construction says the firm has also focused on strengthening its investor relations function, especially as the capital market structure of Hong Kong, where it is headquartered, has undergone changes, including the opening of investment channels connecting Hong Kong and Chinese stock markets and the strengthening of disclosure requirements. Its improved investor communications and transparency include publishing a sustainability report in addition to its regular operating information updates. For these efforts, Zhike (Jacky) Zhou was voted best investor relations professional in the industrial sector.

Overall, 53 firms earned the designation of most-honored company, given to organizations that achieved two or more top-three positions in the rankings for their sector. In addition, 15 companies ranked in the top three in each category for which they were eligible.

China Merchants Bank Co. won best overall in the banking industry, including a first-place finish for CFO Hao Li. In health care and pharmaceuticals, CSPC Pharmaceutical Group took the lead with wins across the best CEO, best IR professional, and best IR company categories.

Other standouts were Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China, which took first place in all but the CEO category for the insurance sector; Beijing Enterprises Water Group, whose CEO Min Zhou, CFO Woon Cheung (Eric) Tung, and IR head Sophia Dui each earned top marks in the power division; and Sunny Optical Technology (Group) Co., which came first in the technology/hardware industry’s CEO and IR company rankings.

India-based Infosys placed first in the information technology services and software industry with wins for its CEO, CFO, and overall investor relations function, while Hong Kong’s China Unicorn took the crown in the telecommunications sector with first-place finishes across the same categories.