(Yicai Global) Feb. 14 -- Hong Kong Stock Exchange will appoint the Laura Cha, chairman of the special administrative region's Financial Services Development Council, to its board of directors, heightening speculation that she will replace outgoing Chung-kong Chow as chairman.
Chow will step down in April along with another director Timothy Freshwater, who will be replaced by with Benjamin Hung, Standard Chartered PLC's chief executive for Greater China and northeast Asia, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. said in a statement.
A final decision on the stock exchange's next chairman will not be made until a shareholder meeting in April, though Cha's appointment to the board indicates she is among the front-runners.
Cha previously served as a director of HKEx between 2006 and 2012, and also holds seats on the boards of several major firms such as HSBC Holdings PLC and China Telecom Corp. Her experience working in both Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland makes her a suitable candidate for the position of chairman, said Christopher Cheung, a senator on Hong Kong's Legislative Council.
Outgoing chairman Chow took office in 2012, and oversaw the acquisition of London Metal Exchange during his term. He also made significant contributions to the inter-connection mechanism between the stock markets in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland.