HKEX: where East meets West

HKEX head Charles Li on the exchange’s role in connecting East to West

Unfazed by the shaky start of the Hong Kong stock exchange’s new biotech chapter, HKEX CEO Charles Li thinks its position at the nexus of East and West will underpin its long-term success. With more U.S. investors tapping into China’s healthcare market and more Chinese investors looking for channels abroad, Li is confident the chapter can weather the current geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds.

In a conversation with BioCentury, Li said he expects IPOs on the exchange this year to continue at a rapid clip, albeit with more realistic valuations than the first crop. The years of regulatory reform and economic growth that paved the way for China’s budding innovative medicines industry will continue to fuel its growth in 2019 and beyond, according to Li.

As CEO of Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX), Li oversaw the launch of the biotech chapter on April 30, 2018, which allowed pre-revenue companies to list for the first time (see “Hong Kong’s New Chapter”).

The first wave of companies raised significant sums in their IPOs, but were either hammered or managed only to tread water in the aftermarket (see "Hong Kong's First Wave"). Ascletis Pharma Inc., which was first to list, has lost about half of its value since its August IPO.

Li thinks global politics, including the mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China, are largely to blame.

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