Casey quits Stock Exchange

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The Independent Online

London Stock Exchange chief executive Gavin Casey said today he was to resign with immediate effect.

London Stock Exchange chief executive Gavin Casey said today he was to resign with immediate effect.

Mr Casey, who has been in the post since 1996, came in for heavy criticism yesterday over his handling of the LSE's collapsed merger plans with the Frankfurt-based Deutsche Borse.

In a confidence motion at yesterday's annual general meeting of LSE shareholders Mr Casey lost out in a show of hands but narrowly survived in the ensuing ballot.

Don Cruickshank, the chairman who survived a similar vote in which about one third of shareholders opposed his appointment, will take over executive duties while a replacement is sought.

The exchange, which this week shelved its controversial merger with the Deutsche Borse, is facing a hostile bid from OM Gruppen, the Swedish stock exchange operator.

In his resignation letter, Mr Casey wrote: "I have decided that it is absolutely right that I should resign as chief executive of the company and this I do now, to take effect today.

"London Stock Exchange is a fine business and I have been proud to be associated with it and with a number of its greater achievements including, most importantly, demutualisation.

"I wish you, and those at the Exchange with whom I have very much enjoyed working, all the best for the future."

The LSE said it had started seeking a successor to Mr Casey, who it said had been "instrumental in strengthening and modernising" the organisation.

At the AGM yesterday, angry shareholders expressed their displeasure at the board's recent performance.

As well as shelving plans to form a major European exchange, the LSE has been threatened with a hostile takeover by the operators of the Swedish exchange, OM Group.

Amid stinging criticism, Mr Casey secured 56% backing from shareholders after he failed to win a majority in an initial show of hands.

LSE chairman Don Cruickshank also came under fire, but was re-elected by a near two-thirds majority.

However, a number of shareholders failed to back him in a first vote, conducted by a show of hands, and he too was subjected to a second vote conducted on a poll system.

Criticisms at the meeting centred on the rollercoaster ride the LSE has been through over the past few months.

After agreeing a marriage with the Deutsche Borse in May to form an exchange to be known as iX, it abruptly pulled out of negotiations on Tuesday in order to defend itself against an £808 million bid from OM Group.

Mr Cruickshank paid tribute to Mr Casey. Speaking on behalf of the LSE board, he said: "Shareholders of the LSE and all our customers owe a lot to Gavin.

"Everything I was able to say at yesterday's AGM about the strength of the company is due in some significant part to his energy and commitment.

"We wish him well for the future."

Mr Cruickshank said his former chief executive had helped transform the LSE into the strong, internationally-renowned, commercial entity which reported pre-tax profits of more than £48 million for the year to March 31, 2000.