Hong Kong Unexpectedly Reappoints Top Securities Regulator

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong reappointed Ashley Alder as chief executive officer of the Securities and Futures Commission, surprisingly extending his nine-year tenure as the city’s top securities regulator.

Alder, who told his colleagues last year that he will step down when his contract expires, will remain on the job until Sept. 30, 2023, the Hong Kong government said in a statement on Monday.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, the local, regional and global financial markets have been facing unprecedented challenges, volatility and uncertainties,” according to the statement. “Continuity of leadership at the SFC would significantly boost the confidence of international and local investors about Hong Kong’s financial markets and be tremendously beneficial to financial stability.”

The announcement highlights the challenge faced by the Asian financial hub which posted a record economic decline in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak and is still reeling from almost a year of pro-democracy protests. Since taking office, Alder has overseen the introduction of dual-class share listings and worked to clean up shell companies notorious for fraud and market manipulation. ​

Also chairman of the International Organization of Securities Commissions, Alder has become known for his hard-line stance, fining HSBC Holdings Plc a record HK$400 million ($52 million) over the sales of structured products linked to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong.

Alder revamped the commission’s internal team structure, including the establishment of ICE -- Intermediaries, Corporates, Enforcement -- a cross-divisional working group intended to tackle corporate misconduct and protect investors. That put him at odds with much of the industry, with brokers adorning an image of his face with devil’s horns for a mass rally four years ago.

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority had been considering hiring Alder as its next chief executive officer, Sky News reported earlier this month.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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