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Hong Kong stock exchange boss pockets HK$166.7 million in first sale of his HKEX stake since 2009

Enoch Yiuenoch.yiu@scmp.com

The boss of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has pocketed HK$166.7 million (US$21.4 million) from the first sale of his personal stake in the operator of Asia's third largest bourse.

Chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia sold 650,000 shares in HKEX on Wednesday at an average price of HK$256.53 each, according to an exchange filing late Thursday. The highest price transacted was HK$258, it said.

The sale trimmed his holding to 403,789 shares, or 0.03 per cent of the company, and marked the first time he has reduced his interest since joining the HKEX in October 2009. The filing did not disclose the cost of his holding in the HKEX shares.

A HKEX spokesperson has no comment on the filing, and could not make Li available for comment.

HKEX shares dropped 1 per cent on Thursday to HK$255, giving it a market capitalisation of HK$322.4 billion. They have risen 13 per cent so far this year.

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The transaction came against the backdrop of concerns about future of Hong Kong as a financial centre following months of anti-government protests and a snub by the owner of London Stock Exchange to its US$36.4 billion takeover overtures earlier this year. China this week also unveiled steps to elevate Macau's role beyond its traditional gambling hub.

The sale, though, does not diminish his commitment to the exchange, Cheung said, given he has held the stake for a long time.

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Hong Kong is the third largest bourse operator in Asia after the combined mainland Chinese exchanges and Tokyo exchange. Under Li's leadership, Hong Kong is home to some of Asia's biggest companies and the world's top venue for initial stock offerings this year, repeating the feat in many of the past 10 years.

Li is the highest-paid regulator in Hong Kong based on his HK$28.97 million income from salary, bonus and other benefits in 2018.

The shares in the HKEX form part of his pay package, according to company filings. He received nine batches of performance share awards between 2015 and 2018.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.