John Maguire is a partner of Nixon Peabody CWL in Hong Kong. John has extensive corporate finance experience and has assisted clients in completing a wide range of transactions, including public company takeovers, initial public offerings, corporate rescues and restructurings, strategic acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, reverse takeovers and fund raisings.
John is committed to public service and currently serves as chairman of the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute, a deputy chairman of the Takeovers and Mergers Panel and as a member of the following bodies: the Listing Committee of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, the Company Law Committee of the Law Society of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s Financial Services Advisory Committee, the Asian Financial Forum Steering Committee and the Resolution Compensation Tribunal established under the Financial Institutions (Resolution) Ordinance.
I have always focused on corporate finance and M&A work. I started my career as a solicitor in London and then Hong Kong with a corporate finance and M&A practice. I have lived in Hong Kong since 1991. I later moved across into corporate finance advisory work. Most recently, I was head of Corporate Finance at Yunfeng Financial Group from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that, in 2000, I co-founded RHB OSK Capital Hong Kong Limited, where I was managing director until 2011. I was a director of Worldsec Corporate Finance Limited (then an affiliate of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi), covering South East Asia from 1995 to 2000. In the past twenty-seven years I have worked in Hong Kong, I have advised on a wide variety of transactions including public company takeovers, IPOs, equity fund raisings, debt financings, notifiable transactions, connected transactions, complex corporate and debt restructurings, M&A and crossborder transactions.
I see a very bright future for Hong Kong. I believe our stock market is poised for tremendous growth. Currently, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the only exchange in the world that enables companies to access the liquidity pools in both Mainland China and the rest of the world (primarily North America and Europe). Stock Connect has been a huge success for both Mainland China and Hong Kong, and I am confident that it will only expand in terms of the range of products traded through the Connect and the number of listed equity securities traded. I hope that we will see the Connect expand to accommodate IPOs (Primary Connect) whereby shares offered in IPOs on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange will be made available to investors in Mainland China. In addition, I hope that the Stock Connect will in the future facilitate trading in securities that have a secondary listing in Hong Kong. Combine this all with the regulatory changes permitting issuers with weighted voting rights to list their securities on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the relaxation allowing issuers from emerging and innovative sectors that are primary listed on a qualifying overseas exchange to have a secondary listing in Hong Kong, notwithstanding that their business operations are in Greater China, and the future of our market looks very exciting.
On the horizon, I see that in addition to attracting large international companies to primary list in Hong Kong because they will be able to tap into not just the international liquidity pool but also (through Primary Connect) the massive Mainland China liquidity pool, Hong Kong could become the secondary listing capital of the world. Typically, secondary listings suffer from the problem that trading in the shares predominantly remains on the home market, it being difficult to generate a big liquidity pool of trading in the secondary market. This may change for Hong Kong if Stock Connect expands to accommodate securities with a secondary listing in Hong Kong. Companies with a secondary listing here may then be able to access the huge liquidity pool in Mainland China with capital that is otherwise not able to be invested in such companies. This would give Hong Kong a further unique advantage over all other markets and would make secondary listings in Hong Kong very attractive. Additionally, the new rules permitting early stage biotechnology companies to list in Hong Kong is generating a great deal of interest and I expect that we will see the biotechnology sector of our market grow significantly over the next few years.
We have also seen rapid development and adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. There has been astronomical growth across the globe in the money raised in ICOs in 2017 and the amount raised so far in 2018 has already surpassed the total for 2017. Similarly, fintech has been developing rapidly. The current generation of young consumers prefers the convenience of using apps, and traditional banks, stockbrokers, wealth managers, insurance companies and so on are facing competition from new entrants with strength in consumer e-business. In both areas we are faced with the issue of how can Hong Kong’s laws and regulations, created in a pre-crypto currency, pre-fintech world, regulate these areas. Market participants recognize the critical need to obtain the best legal advice before structuring their service offerings and this is a huge growth area for legal advice.
The Belt and Road initiative is a monumental project that China is implementing. Hong Kong law is well positioned to be the choice of law governing many of the contracts that will be entered into between Mainland Chinese enterprises and entities in the large number of countries along the belt and road. This presents a fantastic opportunity for the legal profession in Hong Kong to play a role in what will be a transformative project.
John has lectured at various universities and venues in Hong Kong on a variety of topics, including regulatory reform, the Stock Exchange Listing Rules, IPOs, the Takeovers Code and compliance.