Casey offered to quit before Exchange vote

Board denies LSE boss was forced to take flak
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The Independent Online

Gavin Casey, who resigned as chief executive of the London Stock Exchange on Friday after a roasting at a shareholders' meeting on Thursday, had planned to resign earlier in the week. However, fellow directors refused to accept his resignation.

Gavin Casey, who resigned as chief executive of the London Stock Exchange on Friday after a roasting at a shareholders' meeting on Thursday, had planned to resign earlier in the week. However, fellow directors refused to accept his resignation.

The revelation will fuel speculation that the LSE's other directors were determined that Mr Casey, who finally stepped down on Friday, should bear the brunt of flak from furious members who attended the AGM.

It is believed that Mr Casey had wanted to step down immediately after Monday's announcement that the LSE had abandoned its unpopular plan to merge with Deutsche Börse. There is even a suggestion that Mr Casey's compensation package would have been withheld had he failed to delay his resignation until Friday.

Don Cruickshank, the LSE's chairman, described as "fiction" suggestions that Mr Casey has tended his resignation before the meeting. However, at the fateful AGM, Mr Casey made no attempt to deflect flak from the floor of the meeting, declining an offer to speak up for himself. Only 56 per cent of members backed his re-election.

The news will increase the pressure on the LSE's directors, who were noticeably reluctant to defend Mr Casey on Thursday. Although he was the focus of discontent at the meeting, it also revealed significant opposition to the re-election of other directors.

Don Cruickshank, the LSE chairman, who received only 66 per cent of votes cast, has been criticised for his failure to communicate with dissident members. Michael Marks, a non-executive director of the Exchange and chairman of Merrill Lynch, who won the support of 73 per cent of votes, has been accused of a conflict of interest because his employers are also advisers to the LSE. There were also a large number of abstentions.

Although Mr Casey's involvement in the failed merger has drawn a stream of opprobrium from LSE members, some sympathy was expressed on Friday for his plight as well as anger that none of the other directors appeared willing to take the blame.

Martin Burton, who runs Monument Derivatives, said: "Gavin Casey did not do a bad job. He did cut out a lot of costs. Its a shame nobody felt able to support him on Thursday, and he didn't feel confident enough to say what he had achieved."

However, he added: "He's not a visionary, and he wasn't the right person to take the Exchange forward."

Allegations of conflicts of interest among LSE directors have also centred on another non-executive director, Simon Robertson, who works for one of Deutsche Börse's advisers, Goldman Sachs.

Brian Winterflood, chairman of Winterflood Securities, echoed the general disappointment that Mr Casey had been the only director to fall on his sword.

"What the Exchange needs is a very strong board of non-executive directors who have to do something that earns their keep", he said.

Another LSE member said: "LSE directors should not also be customers of the bank."

Both Mr Winterflood and Michael Spencer, chief executive of Garban-Intercapital and another high-profile critic of the Exchange's board, are ready to call for an EGM unless more heads roll.

Retail brokers like Mr Winterflood in particular have been critical of the composition of the Exchange's board, which is heavily weighted in favour of the investment banks, which had been the main drivers behind the failed merger with Deutsche Börse.

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