Comment: Exchange sees the game slipping away

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The Independent Online
Exchange sees the game slipping away

Whatever the outcome of the Stock Exchange's much publicised row with Sharelink's Internet dealing system, the impression grows that Michael Lawrence, the Exchange's chief executive, is seeing the game slip away. The question is the same - what should the Exchange's role be? - but the answers remain elusive, and it is far from clear that the Exchange's think- in at a Hertfordshire Country club over the weekend produced anything new.

On the one hand, it fears London may become the only big financial centre that has rival dealing systems competing for the same equities. This could lead to market fragmentation, a loss of liquidity and key players deserting the market. On the other hand, the Exchange clearly does not relish its current image as a crazed Luddite, running around trying to stop every innovative new dealing system. The trouble is, while Exchange-bashing is all the rage, it is difficult to figure out the best way forward. There is one thing the Exchange could do that would win popularity and show that the hotel weekend was worth the bill - show a bit of maturity and settle the row with Sharelink.

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