By Tracy Qu

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Chief Executive Nicolas Aguzin will step down at the end of February, three months earlier than expected, as the international financier seeks to accelerate the leadership transition.

In a statement on Friday, Hong Kong's stock-exchange operator said Aguzin "believes it would be in the interest of HKEX to accelerate the change in leadership." Aguzin's term was to end in May after he said in December that he wouldn't seek reappointment.

The board has appointed Bonnie Yiting Chan, HKEX's co-chief operating officer, as the new CEO. She will serve a three-year term from March 1.

Aguzin, who was an executive at JPMorgan Chase, joined in 2021 and is credited with steering the stock exchange through a difficult period.

"During his tenure as chief executive, and against a challenging macro backdrop shaped by Covid and weak global markets, Aguzin has strengthened HKEX's core competencies and enhanced HKEX's international presence," the statement said.

Chan's appointment comes as Hong Kong's position as a top IPO destination is in question, with investors pessimistic about China's slowing economy and the deepening rout in the Chinese equity market. According to the exchange, the HKEX had 64 new listings in 2023, raising HK$40.9 billion as of Dec. 15. Last year, the Hang Seng Index fell 14%, its fourth consecutive annual loss.

Hong Kong's benchmark stock index has declined 7.6% so far this year, making it one of the worst performers in Asia.

Write to Tracy Qu at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-09-24 0251ET