LSE names ex-Lehman banker new CEO

LONDON (Reuters) - The London Stock Exchange has appointed Xavier Rolet as its new chief executive, putting the equities trading veteran at its helm at a time when it faces increasingly fierce competition.

An undated file picture of Xavier Rolet, new chief executive of the London Stock Exchange. REUTERS/file picture

Rolet, the former head of Lehman Brothers in France, will take over as chief executive on May 20, the LSE said on Friday, taking over from Clara Furse, the first woman to lead the centuries-old stock exchange.

Rolet worked with the LSE during a nine-year career at Lehman Brothers, the London bourse’s biggest client before the U.S. investment bank’s collapse in September last year, and he previously held senior roles in the equities divisions of Dresdner Kleinwort, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs.

The news confirmed a Reuters story from February 5, which said Rolet was the frontrunner to succeed Furse.

“(The LSE’s) strategic position is unique, and its business prospects are excellent,” Rolet said in a statement.

The LSE faces increasing competition from new trading platforms such as Turquoise and Chi-X and has been forced to cut its prices as a consequence.

Analysts say the LSE is under pressure to broaden its revenues and make it less dependent on its cash equities business.

They are also keen to see whether the bourse will pursue its standalone policy, for which Furse was criticized when the LSE’s shares started losing value, but some said Friday’s statement indicated no speedy changes.

“Furse successfully defended the LSE from takeover and that is not going to change,” Oriel Securities said in a note.

LSE shares rose 4.6 percent to 491.75 pence by 3:53 a.m. EST, in a broadly higher market.

During her eight years as chief executive, Furse rejected takeover bids from Deutsche Boerse and Nasdaq and acquired Milan-based rival Borsa Italiana.

LSE shares, which peaked at over 1,700 pence a year ago, have fallen sharply amid concerns that the financial market downturn will curb equity trading volumes.

Furse will remain as a director until July this year.

Writing by Douwe Miedema, Reporting by Myles Neligan; Editing by Greg Mahlich