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HK names Eddie Yue as new HKMA chief

The 54-year-old, a deputy at the central bank who oversees reserves management, will take over after Norman Chan retires in September

Hong Kong

EDDIE Yue will be the next chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), succeeding Norman Chan, the city's government said on Thursday.

Mr Yue, a deputy at the central bank who oversees reserves management, will take over after Mr Chan retires at the end of September.

He will be in charge of the city's HK$4 trillion (S$700 billion) exchange fund and oversight of the peg to the dollar.

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The main task for the 54-year-old will be defence of the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback, which has underpinned stability in the city since 1983.

The importance of the peg is being highlighted now as protests against a proposed extradition bill intensify in the most serious political crisis since the return to Chinese rule.

"A steady change in management is more important than bringing in new things for the HKMA at this time during the trade war," said Iris Pang, an economist at ING bank NV in Hong Kong. "Eddie Yue is that steady change in management."

The new HKMA chief is set to be among the world's best-paid central bankers, despite having little role in setting interest rates.

Formal tasks include formulating banking policies and managing the city's reserve fund.

Yet it's the currency peg that is the highest priority, with chief executives representing the city's iron commitment to maintaining the level.

The authorities have intervened over the years to defend it.

Mr Yue, the most experienced deputy to Mr Chan, started his career in civil service in 1986 after graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He joined the HKMA as a senior manager in 1993, the year it was established.

He became a deputy chief executive in 2007, helping Mr Chan steer Hong Kong through the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

An advocate of the exchange fund's long-term growth portfolio, investing into alternative assets such as private equity and real estate, Mr Yue has helped the fund deliver an annualised internal rate of return of 12.9 per cent since 2009. BLOOMBERG