CANADIAN, D. FORD, TO HEAD HONG KONG FUTURES EXCHANGE

CANADIAN, D. FORD, TO HEAD HONG KONG FUTURES EXCHANGE

The troubled Hong Kong Futures Exchange has tapped a Canadian, Douglas Ford, aged 45, as its new chief executive and vice chairman.

He will take up his post June 13 after 10 years as head of the Winnipeg, Manitoba, commodities exchange, one of Canada's leading futures markets.The government forced the resignations of the Hong Kong stock and futures exchanges' top management and installed its own temporary managers after the worldwide stock market rout and an unprecedented four-day shutdown of both local markets.

That decision, which left players locked into hopelessly overvalued positions on stock index futures, necessitated the creation of a government- back ed rescue fund of HK$4 billion (US$512 million) to guard against defaults.

Since then, the futures exchange has tightened membership and capital requirements and says margin rules will be more closely supervised.

Many smaller brokers regularly ignored margin requirements as the Hong Kong stock exchange rocketed to dizzying levels ahead of the crash.

Average daily turnover in stock index futures plunged to about 1,000 lots after the crash from 30,000 ahead of Oct. 19. Turnover now varies from 80 to 200 lots a day.

One analyst cites the chicken-and-egg syndrome: There isn't sufficient volume to attract big program traders, and without them there can't be big volume.

Moreover, a number of the local high-rollers who sparked the market last year are now broke.