Selfies and ceremony as the Hong Kong stock exchange's floor trading hall closes for good - South China Morning Post

Stock traders past and present, many wearing the traditional red jacket, joined government leaders at the trading hall of the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday for its official closing ceremony, bringing down the curtain on 126 years of floor trading in the city.

Once the centre of stock trading in the city, the floor fell victim to the rise of electronic trading in the 1990s and the brokers gradually moved out, prompting the bourse operator, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX), to close it.

The current building, located at Exchange Square in Central, began operations in 1986 following the merger of the city’s four different stock exchanges. It will now become a museum, conference and exhibition space to promote Hong Kong’s financial markets and will be renamed Hong Kong Connect Hall, reopening in February 2018.

Its closure leaves only New York among major world stock exchanges to have a trading floor.

Last brokers left standing on the floor set to turn out the lights on 126 years of Hong Kong trading

“When the trading hall first opened on April 2, 1986, the Hang Seng Index traded at 1,603, and it closed at 28,438 today. Turnover on its first trading day was HK$226 million and today it was about HK$100 billion,” said HKEX chairman Chow Chung-kong, in remarks at the ceremony.

“This shows the Hong Kong stock market has come a long way. There have been a lot of ups and downs, good and bad days in between, but traders have kept the market going over the three decades,” he said.

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Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, received a red jacket – the required wear for floor traders when the hall was in use – bearing the number 001 and posed for photographs with traders and reporters. Chow sported a jacket with the number 388, the stock code for HKEX, which is listed on the exchange it runs.

For many younger traders, the ceremony was the first time they had been to the hall, and the red jackets were much in demand for selfies and group photos. HKEX also provided snacks popular in the 1970s and 1980s to add to the sense of nostalgia for those attending the ceremony.

Floor trading began in Hong Kong in 1891. The current hall has 906 two-person booths and housed over 1,400 traders at its peak in the 1980s, when all transactions were conducted by floor traders. But recently only about 30 remained.

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Former traders recalled the buzz and camaraderie of days on the floor.

“Each floor trader had up to four telephones and my firm had 10 traders so we had 40 telephones in front of us,” said Benny Mau, who started his career as a floor trader at BOCI International in 1987.

“Back then, all 40 phones could ring at the same time and we had to yell to other traders to get the deals done. You can imagine the atmosphere. All traders needed to have a loud voice, to be able to run fast, to have a clear memory and a good relationship with other traders to get the deals done,” Mau said.

Mau, like many traders, has not been on the floor for many years. He has become managing director of China Securities International Finance Holding, and like most of the broking community, stays in the office.

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Sunac China's chairman ordered back to school for breaching Hong ... - South China Morning Post

The chairman of property developer Sunac China Holdings, Sun Hongbin, and another director have been ordered back to school for 26 hours by the Hong Kong stock exchange operator after it ruled the two had failed to meet full disclosure rules during a big takeover deal in January 2015.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing said in a statement on Thursday that Sun and Wang Mengde would need to each attend 24 hours of training on stock exchange listing rules and compliance, director’s duties and corporate governance, and an additional two hours on the disclosure requirements under Chapter 2 of the listing rules.

The penalty relates to Sunac’s bid in January 2015 to buy a 49.25 per cent stake in Chinese property firm Kaisa Group Holdings for HK$4.55 billion (US$580 million). Kaisa was struggling with debt at the time and had defaulted on US-dollar bonds, and Sunac was seen as a potential rescuer.

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At the time, Sunac and the sellers of the shares, who included Kaisa chairman Kwok Ying-shing, also signed a supplementary agreement, under which Sunac would pay the sellers HK$1.55 billion if the deal failed to go through. The sum was equal to the amount of the first payment Sunac was to have made for the deal.

However, Sunac and Kaisa did not disclose the supplementary agreement in joint statements to the exchange in February and again in May 2015, when the deal was abandoned. Additionally, Sun did not disclose it to Sunac’s board of directors, the exchange said.

“At the material time, Mr Sun and Mr Wang were (and are still) directors of the company. They had knowledge of the supplemental agreement but did not disclose the same to the board for its knowledge and/or approval,” the exchange statement said.

“Mr Sun signed the supplemental agreement without the board’s knowledge or approval, which is unacceptable. Each director is accountable to the company and its shareholders for his actions and must disclose and seek approval from the board before taking any actions that would affect the interests of the company and its shareholders,” the statement said.

“The joint announcement and termination announcement were inaccurate and incomplete, in all material respects, and misleading for they failed to mention the supplemental agreement,” it said.

The 26 hours of training must be completed in 90 days, in classes offered by the Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries, the Hong Kong Institute of Directors or others approved by HKEX, the exchange said.

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Hong Kong's storied stock trading hall shuts up shop - Reuters - Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The lights go out and screens turn blank in the trading hall of Hong Kong’s stock exchange this week, marking the end of an era for the red-carpeted, cavernous space that was home to more than a thousand floor traders in its heyday.

Catherine Cheung, a floor trader since 1994, is hugged by her colleague before leaving the trading hall of the Hong Kong Exchanges in Hong Kong October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Opened in 1986 with the merger of four exchanges in the Asian financial hub, the bourse follows in the footsteps of global peers such as Tokyo, Singapore and London, which have all closed their doors amid a shift toward electronic trading in recent years.

Floor trading in Hong Kong accounted for more than 20 percent of total turnover in January 2000, when more than a thousand traders dressed in numbered red vests would engage in frenzied buying and selling in the hall of over 900 booths.

Fast-forward more than 10 years and the floor trade accounted for just 0.3 percent of total turnover and hosted a meager 30 traders physically present.

The loss of a piece of the former British colony’s colorful mercantile heritage comes as the city strives to assert economic relevance in Greater China amid rising competition from mainland cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen.

“It is sad to see it closing down,” said Catherine Cheung, a floor trader in her mid-50s. “It hurts in a way that is worse than suffering a trading loss. We can still earn back a trading loss but we cannot reopen a trading floor after it’s closed.”

Cheung, who works for a local brokerage with just nine employees, began working as a floor trader in 1994.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of original trading hall of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in Hong Kong, China March 3, 1999. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

“I‘m now over 50. I will continue to be a trader but in the office,” she said. “We won’t quit (trading) as it is a way to keep our blood boiling and our heart beating.”

The darkest day for the exchange came in October 1987 when Black Monday, as it became known, started in Hong Kong and quickly spread to markets globally. Stocks plunged, forcing bourse chairman Ronald Li to shut the exchange for four days.

Traders have been packing up since mid-October and there will be no traders on the floor after Oct 27.

It was one of a handful of exchanges globally that still hosted open-floor trading. In Asia, the Philippine Stock Exchange still uses live trading floors.

Renovation work will begin at the Hong Kong exchange after Oct. 31, turning the trading hall into a financial services landmark for ceremonies, exhibitions, conferences and investor education. The complex is expected to re-open in February.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (0388.HK), Asia’s third-biggest equity bourse by market value, which was the world’s No. 1 IPO market in 2015 and 2016, is leveraging its role as a gateway to China’s deep-pocketed investors to boost revenue as competition with other leading global stock listing venues has intensified.

There were 2,069 companies listed on the main board and Growth Enterprise Market board in Hong Kong as of end-September, with an average daily turnover of HK$95.2 billion ($12.20 billion) over 21 trading days during the month, according to the Hong Kong bourse.

“I‘m proud to own my red vest ... I can tell my grandchildren that I was one of the floor traders in those glory days,” Cheung said.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Sam Holmes

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Hong Kong stock exchange to launch trading board consultations on Friday - THE BUSINESS TIMES

[HONG KONG] The Hong Kong stock exchange will launch on Friday long-awaited consultations on a review of the city's growth enterprise market (GEM) board and on whether to establish a trading board for young firms with non-standard share structures, its CEO said.

This comes amid general debate about Hong Kong's corporate governance rules and attractiveness as a listing destination. The city was the world's biggest IPO venue last year but has struggled to attract technology and so-called new economy companies due to its profitability requirements and ban on weighted voting rights, which many tech firms prefer.

"Details of the reform of the second board (GEM) and the introduction of the third board will be announced this Friday," Chief Executive Charles Li said at an event in Hong Kong on Monday. "We believe all that will help maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness."

Concerns have grown over the quality of companies listed on the GEM board, with many stocks jumping sharply on the first day of trading, fuelling fears over market manipulation, Mr Li said.

On the long-awaited bond connect scheme to link China's US$8 trillion bond market with overseas investors, Mr Li said only that the HKEx was "rushing" to get everything in place.

Plans for a "Bond Connect" programme have been percolating since Beijing launched a scheme allowing two-way trading between the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets in 2014, but the authorities have provided few details on the mechanics or the timeline.

REUTERS

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Taiwan lawmakers launch support group for Hong Kong democracy - Channel NewsAsia

Lawmakers in Taiwan launched a new group to help promote democracy in Hong Kong on Monday, a move likely to rile Beijing ahead of the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city from Britain back to China. AFP/SAM YEH

TAIPEI: Lawmakers in Taiwan launched a new group to help promote democracy in Hong Kong on Monday (Jun 12), a move likely to rile Beijing ahead of the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city from Britain back to China.

Taiwan and Hong Kong are thorns in Beijing's side -- both saw huge anti-China protests in 2014, known respectively as the Sunflower Movement and Umbrella Movement.

Ties with self-ruling Taiwan have worsened under China-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office last year.

Beijing still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified and wants Tsai to acknowledge that the island is part of "one China", which she has refused to do.

In semi-autonomous Hong Kong, frustration at a lack of political reform and fears that freedoms are under threat have led to the emergence of groups calling for self-determination or even independence from China, infuriating Beijing.

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The new "Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus" comprises 18 lawmakers who say they want to help promote democracy in Hong Kong, including Huang Kuo-chang -- one of the leaders of the Sunflower Movement and now a lawmaker with the New Power Party, which he heads.

Four other NPP legislators are part of the caucus, with the other members coming from Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"We have seen that the Beijing government continues to suppress Hong Kong people's pursuit of true democracy," Huang told reporters Monday.

The caucus would offer "assistance" by helping campaigners and lawmakers in both places to exchange views and discuss public policies, he added.

Huang and other top activists from the Sunflower Movement have been barred from entering Hong Kong since 2014.

High-profile Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and lawmakers, including Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, also attended the launch.

Law described Taiwan as an "ally".

"We need to be united and share our experiences more as we are faced with suppression," Wong added.

The 20-year-old emphasised that he did not advocate independence for Hong Kong -- his and Law's party Demosisto is calling for self-determination.

But political analyst Willy Lam said Beijing would not differentiate between independence activists and campaigners like Law and Wong.

Lam predicted Chinese authorities would "ferociously attack" the new group as evidence of collusion between pro-independence forces.

Taiwan has never formally declared independence from China and Beijing has said it would react with force if it ever did.

Tsai's DPP is traditionally pro-independence, fuelling Beijing's suspicion of her government.

Hong Kong is deeply divided into those calling for more democracy and pro-China voices as it approaches the Jul 1 handover anniversary.

Law was attacked by pro-Beijing demonstrators at Hong Kong airport in January on his return from a trip to Taiwan.

Wong and Law were both greeted by pro-China protesters in Taipei on that visit, during which they participated in an exchange of views between the democratic movements of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Hong Kong International Airport issues foreign exchange tender ... - The Moodie Davitt Report

HONG KONG. Airport Authority Hong Kong has issued a tender for two foreign exchange concessions at Hong Kong International Airport.

Licence A covers ten units and Licence B covers nine units, with a mix of airside and landside opportunities. The units range in size from 4sq m to 55sq m.

The submission deadline is 8 August.

AAHK said this “presents a unique business opportunity for money exchange operators in this prestigious aviation hub in Asia”.

As reported, the incumbent is Travelex but this time around  the Authority has opted for a dual-operator model, believing it will benefit passengers from a customer service perspective.

The contracts run for five years from the first quarter of 2018.

Just as it did for its duty free tender earlier this year, Airport Authority Hong Kong has consolidated the locations to make the opportunities more attractive to bidders.

It is understood that keen interest in the tender has already been shown by international operators during the Authority’s pre-tender marketing over the past few months.

Note to foreign exchange operators: The Moodie Davitt Report is the only international business media that devotes extensive coverage to the airport foreign exchange sector. All such stories since our launch in 2003 can be accessed via our drop-down menu under ‘Other Revenues’ on our home page. To advertise on these pages, please contact Sarah Genest by e-mail on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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