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Thursday, January 09, 2020, 22:15
HKEx chief warns of economic 'devastation' from protests
By Agencies
Thursday, January 09, 2020, 22:15 By Agencies

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited Chief Executive Officer Charles Li speaks during a forum of Shanghai-Hong Kong financial cooperation under the Belt And Road Initiative held in Hong Kong Oct 16, 2017. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG - The "depth of the devastation" inflicted on Hong Kong's economy by more than six months of anti-government protests stemming from the extradition bill incident will be seen in the coming weeks, the chief of the city's stock exchange operator said on Thursday.

I think local listed companies with local exposure are going to take a very big hit. They already are taking a big hit

Charles Li, CEO of HKEx

The warning came as Hong Kong-based companies are expected to show the scars of the sometimes violent protests that forced businesses to shut and scared away visitors over the next few weeks when they report their annual results.

"I think local listed companies with local exposure are going to take a very big hit. They already are taking a big hit," Charles Li, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX), told a Reuters Breakingviews event.

READ MORE: More HK companies say business impacted by protests

HKEx itself posted its steepest profit slide in nearly three years in the third quarter, as investor sentiment was hit by months of unrest that pushed the city into recession for the first time in a decade.

HKEx earnings for 2019 are expected to be bolstered by a pick-up in share sales in the fourth quarter, with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba raising almost US$13 billion from its secondary listing in Hong Kong.

Referring to Alibaba, which in 2013 dropped plans for a primary listing in Hong Kong and turned instead to New York due to rigid listing rules, Li said the exchange needed to eliminate barriers for companies to return.

ALSO READ: Companies around the world get hit by HK protests

HKEx launched a surprise US$39 billion approach for the London Stock Exchange Group in September, but withdrew it after failing to convince LSE management and investors to back the move.

On potential acquisitions, Li said all options were on the table.

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