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Markets

Hong Kong exchange operator 2020 profit soars on higher trading volumes

  • HKEX's new CEO Nicolas Aguzin, previously head of JPMorgan Chase & Co's international private bank, is due to take over in May.
24 Feb 2021

HONG KONG: Hong Kong Stock Exchange's operator posted a 23% jump in 2020 net profit on Wednesday that was marginally above estimates, buoyed by higher trading volumes due to coronavirus-driven market gyrations, while Stock Connect schemes linking the bourse with mainland China also boosted volumes.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) posted a net profit of HK$11.51 billion ($1.48 billion) for the year ended Dec. 31, up from HK$9.39 billion a year earlier, setting a third straight year of record profits.

The average estimate of 24 analysts polled by Refinitiv was HK$11.3 billion.

Average daily turnover of equity products traded on the Hong Kong exchange rose 60% in 2020, as investors reacted to market volatility early in the year, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent optimism caused by vaccine roll outs.

Trading revenue is the largest contributor to HKEX's income.

Profits were also boosted by fees from new listings, most notably by US-listed Chinese companies including tech firm JD.com seeking secondary listings in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was the second most popular listing venue globally in 2020, with deals worth $31.2 billion, compared to Nasdaq's $51.3 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

"With robust trading volumes, a strong IPO pipeline, and an expanding product portfolio, I am confident that HKEX will continue to play a vital role connecting investors, corporates and markets around the world," Calvin Tai, the company's interim chief executive officer, said in an exchange filing.

HKEX's new CEO Nicolas Aguzin, previously head of JPMorgan Chase & Co's international private bank, is due to take over in May.

HKEX's trading volumes have increased further in 2021, with average daily turnover in January at HK$245.7 billion, from $103.9 billion a year earlier, with trading through stock connect again being a major contributor.