HSBC job for former exchange chief

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The Independent Online
HSBC Holdings, the parent company of the Midland and Hongkong banks, has appointed Paul Chow, the Hong Kong stock exchange's former chief executive, as the deputy chief executive officer of its money management arm, HSBC Asset Management.

The 49-year-old Mr Chow is a resolutely low-key technocrat who ran the stock exchange for five years without producing any sparks or making any notable mistakes.

His style of management was collegiate, allowing more flamboyant executives to hog the limelight while he plodded away at his task of making the market grow.

Growth is highly valued in Hong Kong and Mr Chow is credited with presiding over a period during which the capitalisation of the exchange grew fourfold, mirroring the increase in trading volume.

However, unlike some of his predecessors, Mr Chow has not moved into a prime position in the private sector. Instead, he will in effect be the number-three man at HSBC Asset Management, which, unlike the parent company, remains based in Hong Kong.

Mr Chow will report to Robert Duggins, the company's chief executive officer, and to Kevin Gregory, the global chief operating officer. This makes him the most senior Chinese executive.

Despite the Hongkong Bank's notable efforts to localise its executive strength, Mr Duggins denied that Mr Chow's ethnicity had anything to do with his appointment. He stressed the importance of his background and experience, both at the exchange and at the Sun Hung Kai group, one of the largest local finance companies.

The post he will fill is a new one focusing mainly on the group's operational and support functions. Mr Duggins sees Mr Chow taking charge of strategic development plans for Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Korea. He said that the deregulation of markets in these areas presented opportunities: "We need someone of Paul's calibre [to oversee this area].''

Mr Chow has allowed himself a four-month period of distance from the stock exchange, following his resignation at the end of last year. "The good thing about joining a fund management company is that there is no apparent conflict of interest," said Mr Duggins. Fund managers are basically market consumers rather than sellers.

HSBC Asset Management, one of East Asia's biggest fund managers, has had a patchy performance record, leading to a number of reorganisations. However, it turned in a sterling performance last year as funds under management rose by 87 per cent to $44.5bn (pounds 27.7bn).

When Paul Chow left the stock exchange its house magazine, the Securities Journal, hailed his departure with the immodest headline, "The maestro departs". This was backed up by a survey of market practitioners who gave him high marks for his period of office. One dealer was quoted as saying:

"Hong Kong loves a technocrat, and Paul Chow has been the most visible technocrat for some time."