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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: London Stock Exchange FD – Lucky for some: New CEO for London Stock Exchange – FD misses out

Friday 13th – it’s lucky for some and, this time, lucky for Xavier Rolet –
CEO for Lehmans in France until the whole operation went belly-up six months ago
– who has just been chosen to succeed Dame Clara Furse as
CEO
of the London Stock Exchange
when she steps down on 20 May. Rolet’s
appointment isn’t much of a surprise given that he has historical links with the
exchange. He chaired its strategic advisory group after it demutualised in 2000.

We interviewed the stock exchange’s CFO, Doug Webb, just last week. We had
been wondering if Webb, a seasoned FD with deep operational, group level and
divisional, and geographical experience, was actually over-qualified to remain
in the finance role for very long. When we met him at the exchange’s Paternoster
Square HQ, he didn’t exactly try to put paid to our suspicions that he was being
trained up for the top job, though he used all the right words: “I’m just
focused on the job I’ve been brought in to do. I’m still going through the
learning process – it’s much more complicated than it seems on the surface,” he
told us. “There’s plenty to keep me occupied now without having any thoughts on
the longer term.” Perhaps if the timing of Furse’s departure had been different…

Both Rolet and Webb have expressed a certain starry-eyedness about working
for the exchange. Rolet told Reuters today: “I feel I’ve been preparing for this
job for well over a decade. I have a particular affection for the LSE.” In our
exclusive interview with him in our March issue, Webb tells us that he, too,
sees the LSE “as a special sort of institution. It has this tremendous brand, so
you have a real asset to work with, and this great vision – it is the world’s
capital market.”

As for Rolet’s appointment, we’re wondering if anyone pondered the ‘mud
sticks’ element of hiring an ex-Lehmans man after the way it imploded into one
of the City’s most important jobs, at a time when reputation has never been more
mission-critical. We’re also reflecting on the irony of taking on someone from
the organisation that was due to partner the LSE in a new venture called Baikal,
which was to be a so-called ‘dark pool’ facility for European equities
(effectively, off-market block-trading).

Meanwhile, watch out for our March issue to hear from Webb on learning the
equities trading business, running finance for a uniquely esteemed brand, and
moving from a contracts-led business at defence giant Qinetiq to a business
that’s truly at the mercy of the markets.

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