The operator of Hong Kong’s stock exchange named JPMorgan Chase & Co. veteran Nicolas Aguzin as its next chief executive, appointing an international banker to the top job as the city’s status as a global finance hub is at a crossroads.
The hire comes as Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. enjoys a China-fueled boom in trading and new listings. Mr. Aguzin, 52 years old, will take the helm of what is now the world’s most valuable exchange group, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, with a rally in its own shares lifting its market capitalization to around $85 billion.
Mr. Aguzin is an Argentine national who also holds a Croatian passport and has permanent residence in Hong Kong. He doesn’t speak Mandarin—unlike his Beijing-born predecessor Charles Li, who led HKEX from 2010 to the end of last year.
The appointment of a foreigner underscores the exchange’s global ambitions and its independence, amid concerns about Beijing’s growing influence on the city, said Paul Pong, managing director at Pegasus Fund Managers Ltd.
“It helps strengthen the image of Hong Kong as an international financial center,” said Mr. Pong. He said Mr. Aguzin’s strengths would be complemented by those of HKEX Chairman Laura Cha, who has strong connections in mainland China as a former vice chairman of China’s securities watchdog.