Hong Kong stock exchange hires J.P. Morgan exec as its next CEO

February 9, 2021, 10:07 AM UTC

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.

Hong Kong’s stock exchange has chosen a J.P. Morgan CEO as its new chief executive, filling a seat left empty by the retirement of former chief executive Charles Li at the end of 2020, the exchange announced on Tuesday.

Nicolas Aguzin, chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan’s international private bank, is resigning from the U.S. bank to take on the role of CEO at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. (HKEX). Aguzin’s first three-year term as CEO will start on May 24.

According to a Tuesday Bloomberg report, the HKEX board was conflicted over whether to hire a new chief executive with strong international credentials or one who can operate in China, where much of the capital flowing into Hong Kong’s exchange originates.

Picking Aguzin may represent a balance between a chief executive with global expertise and one with local experience. Aguzin doesn’t hail from Hong Kong or mainland China, but he took on his current J.P. Morgan role in 2020 after serving as the firm’s head of banking and CEO for Asia Pacific for eight years. Before that, he was J.P. Morgan’s CEO in Latin America.

“As China’s economy and capital markets continue to open, HKEX will become ever more relevant…acting as a catalyst that connects China with the world, and the world with China,” Aguzin said in a Tuesday statement.

Key Interviews At The JP Morgan Global China Summit
Nicolas Aguzin, former chairman and chief executive officer of Asia Pacific at JPMorgan Chase, speaks during a Bloomberg Television program in 2018. On Tuesday, HKEX hired Aguzin as its next CEO.
Giulia Marchi—Bloomberg/Getty Images

HKEX chairman Laura Cha said in a Tuesday statement that Aguzin’s “wealth of international and regional experience in capital markets” and “extensive knowledge of mainland China” will be “invaluable” to the Hong Kong stock exchange and its growth as a leading international financial hub.

Aguzin, a native of Argentina, has been based in Hong Kong since 2012, where he oversaw J.P. Morgan’s business in the Asia-Pacific region. He joined J.P. Morgan as a financial analyst in 1990 after graduating with a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Aguzin will be the first foreigner to head the exchange, whose previous chief executives hailed from mainland China or Hong Kong.

At J.P. Morgan, Aguzin has advised clients on strategic cross-border and corporate finance transactions. He is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, and he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society, a U.S.-founded nonprofit organization aimed at promoting education and connections between the U.S. and Asia.

Filippo Gori, CEO of Asia Pacific for J.P. Morgan, said Aguzin “transformed our franchise in the region” during his tenure as head of Asia Pacific for the bank from 2012 to 2020.

“While we will miss him, we are very pleased for him and the opportunity he will now be taking,” Gori told Fortune in a statement.

HKEX copresident and COO Calvin Tai has been serving as interim chief executive of the exchange since Jan. 1, following Li’s retirement after 10 years as HKEX chief executive. Li, who was the exchange’s longest-serving chief executive, also worked for J.P. Morgan before joining HKEX in 2010.

Under Li’s leadership, the Hong Kong stock exchange underwent listing reforms aimed at attracting big tech companies, upstart technology firms from China, and secondary listings of U.S.- or mainland-listed Chinese firms. Such offerings dominated Hong Kong’s exchange in 2020 and are expected to do so again this year.

Li, who is originally from mainland China, also headed the exchange during periods of political strife and uncertainty in Hong Kong. Li’s tenure encompassed the monthslong protest movements of 2014 and 2019 and Beijing’s imposition last year of Hong Kong’s national security law, which many foreign business groups opposed.

In 2020, HKEX recorded a 24% increase in funds raised and its most active year since 2011 in terms of proceeds, making it a significant engine of growth for the global initial public offering market last year. The exchange kicked off 2021 with the biggest Internet IPO since Uber’s 2019 float when Chinese short-video app Kuaishou debuted last week and raised $5.4 billion.