'Napoleon' of London securities industry faces a spell on Elba

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The Independent Online
FRIENDS of Peter Rawlins, who yesterday lost his job as chief executive of the Stock Exchange, describe how he likes to screen a video of his appearance long ago with his mother on Bruce Forsyth's The Generation Game, writes Patrick Hosking.

It was typical of the man that he scooped the prize pool all the way down to the cuddly toy. The glittering prizes have continued to come his way in the 20 years since then. Until yesterday.

Still only 41, he was 38 when appointed to run the Stock Exchange, dismissing City critics who pointed out that he was an accountant with no experience of the securities industry.

Renowned for his quick thinking and quicker verbal delivery, he managed to annoy institutions large and small. Small provincial brokers disliked him for doing away with individual membership of the exchange. Large institutions, some of which have already spent pounds 10m on Taurus, blame him for the delays.

Known variously as 'Bawling Rawlins' and 'Napoleon', he took the axe to the exchange, cutting staff numbers and doing away with many committees and sub-committees. He had little time for some City traditions.

He made his name in the Lloyd's insurance market, first as the bag-carrier of Ian Hay Davison, who had been appointed by the Bank of England to reform the scandal-torn institution. Mr Rawlins, previously a partner with Arthur Andersen, drafted speeches and came up with ideas for reform.

In 1985 he joined the RW Sturge underwriting agency, as managing director of the main subsidiary. Ironically, since his departure in 1989, Sturge has written off millions of pounds as a result of problems with its computer system.

While pondering what to do after Sturge, he told friends he would love to run a bookshop or become a prep schoolmaster. The option is once again open to him.

(Photograph omitted)