Hong Kong Exchanges Appoints Laura Cha as First Female Chairman

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. named Laura Cha as its new chairman, the first time a woman has held the position in the company’s 18-year history.

Long seen as the favorite for the job, Cha was elected Thursday by HKEX’s board of directors and will succeed Chow Chung-kong, according to a statement. She will be the only woman to chair a Hang Seng Index member firm. The appointment is subject to the approval of the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the statement said.

Cha, 68, is also an independent non-executive director at HSBC Holdings Plc and a non-official member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, which advises the city’s head of government, according to her biography.

Only 14 percent of directors at companies in the Hang Seng are women, according to data from Community Business, a non-profit organization focused on inclusion in business. In Japan that figure is 3.7 percent, the data show. Around 21 percent of S&P 500 Index and 42 percent of Norwegian board seats were occupied by woman last year, according to Community Business.

As chairman of the government-backed Financial Services Development Council, Cha championed the introduction of dual-class shares in the city and was behind efforts to position Hong Kong as an offshore center for trading Chinese yuan. She has also held roles with the Securities and Futures Commission and China Securities Regulatory Commission.

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