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Hong Kong market operator's profit surges on IPO and trading booms

HKEX's net income rises 70% ahead of new chief executive's arrival

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing has benefited from strong trading volumes via Stock Connect as well as "homecoming listings" by Chinese technology companies listed in New York.   © AP

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing said its net profit reached 3.84 billion Hong Kong dollars ($494.74 million) in the first three months of the year, up 70% from HK$2.26 billion a year earlier, as average daily turnover surged 86%.

"HKEX has had a strong start to 2021, reporting record quarterly revenue and other income and profit," Calvin Tai, the operator's interim chief executive, said in a statement. "This was driven by a buoyant IPO market and very robust trading volumes."

New chief Nicolas Aguzin will start in May, succeeding Charles Li, who left at the end of last year after a decade at HKEX. Aguzin previously was head of JPMorgan's international private bank.

HKEX benefited from strong trading volumes through the Stock Connect channel that links Hong Kong with exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as so-called homecoming listings by Chinese technology companies such as Baidu and Bilibili, whose shares are traded primarily in New York.

Such companies have been seeking a place on the Hong Kong exchange as a hedge against potential U.S. delisting due to new legislation and pressure from the worsening relationship between the world's two largest economies.

HKEX reported average daily turnover of HK$61 billion through the southbound Stock Connect channel from mainland China. Daily northbound volumes, reflecting purchases of domestic Chinese shares by global investors through HKEX, reached HK$126.8 billion in the first quarter.

New share listings on HKEX reached HK$136.6 billion in the first three months, more than nine times the sum for the same period a year earlier.

HKEX shares were little changed in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The shares have climbed 15% this year compared with a 6.5% increase for the Hang Seng Index.

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