October 30, 2018 / 7:58 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 2-IG Group appoints ex-Citi and IBM executive as first female CEO

* Felix steps up from non-exec director

* Must steer company through tighter regulatory environment

* Shares up 6 pct (Adds analyst comment, background, shares)

By Shashwat Awasthi and Arathy S Nair

Oct 30 (Reuters) - IG Group Holdings’ has named June Felix as its first female CEO, appointing the former Citibank and IBM executive to lead the online financial trading firm as it navigates the sector’s tightening regulatory environment.

Felix’s replaces company veteran Peter Hetherington, who announced his resignation in September, a week after IG posted a 4.7 percent drop in quarterly revenue, citing increased regulation and a dip in market volatility.

Shares in IG Group, which have fallen nearly 20 percent this year, rose more than 6 percent as Felix joined a select band of female CEOs. Only a handful of women hold top management roles at the biggest London-listed companies and an even smaller number in Britain’s financial services sector.

Felix, a non-executive director at IG since September 2015, previously served as president of payment technology firm Verifone Inc’s Europe and Russia business. She also held senior roles at Citibank, IBM and IT consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Verifone role gave Felix full profit-and-loss responsibility for the region and more than 2,000 employees, according to her LinkedIn profile. As a consultant at Booz & Hamilton, Felix advised various companies on growth and turnaround strategies.

The appointment comes as European regulators have begun to tighten controls on IG and rivals such as CMC Markets and Plus500 after huge losses for some ordinary investors in the Swiss franc shone a light on the huge leveraged bets offered on the platforms to anyone with a bank card.

The company, which started in 1974 as a spread-betting firm with only three employees, said Felix was selected after it assessed external and internal candidates for the job.

IG said that Felix’s broad experience, across the United States, Asia and Europe make her ideally suited to take the company forward, while Shore Capital analyst said that shareholders will be pleased that the appointment had been concluded quickly

Canaccord analyst Justin Bates said a company restructuring could be on the cards, given IG’s high cost base. However, he said that some investors may have preferred an external CEO appointment to provide fresh perspective on IG’s strategy.

“Here was an opportunity to appoint someone from outside of the business who could bring a fresh set of eyes and ideas to what is a very difficult situation,” Bates said.

IG had appointed finance chief Paul Mainwaring as interim CEO in September. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Patrick Graham and David Goodman)

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