A blue sky thinker leading turnaround at Stock Exchange

In The Spotlight: Xavier Rolet
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The Independent Online

He might have spent his career in banking before joining the London Stock Exchange, but Xavier Rolet is actually secretly a bit of an action man.

The Frenchman completed the Dakar rally in 2009, in what became the first year that the event was staged outside Europe and North Africa. But whether staged on this side of the Atlantic or in its second home of South America (Chile and Argentina) one thing has not changed: simply completing the race is quite a feat. The off-road endurance event, in which 80 per cent of the competitors are amateurs, usually takes a brutal toll upon its competitors.

There were a few eyebrows raised when Mr Rolet, an alumnus of Lehman Brothers, was appointed to lead a turnaround of the London Stock Exchange. But he's gradually been winning around doubters. While his speeches could perhaps do with a bit of pruning, he is an entertaining lunch date, having a couple of qualities that many bankers lack: charm and wit. It's helped to rebuild some of the exchange's notoriously difficult relationships with customers.

When he's not tearing around the spine of South America or talking up the virtues of the exchange's "dark pool" of liquidity, he does find some time for pastoral pursuits. Mr Rolet is an accomplished bee-keeper and also owns vineyards in the southern Rhone. However, typically, he disdained the traditional conservatism of French wine makers, who are supposed to sell their wines under appellations. Mr Rolet's vineyards run across seven – which could get confusing. So he created a brand, Chêne Bleu. It's certainly found favour among critics, winning gold at the International Wine & Spirit Festival. Such blue sky thinking might just be what the LSE needs.

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