LSE surprises City with choice of oil man as new chairman

The London Stock Exchange has turned to the oil industry to find a new chairman to replace Don Cruickshank who will step down in July.

The institution said Chris Gibson-Smith, who worked for 31 years at BP, had agreed to take the job after several months of negotiation with Whitehead Mann, headhunters appointed by the LSE to find a new figurehead for the 202-year-old institution.

The appointment confounded the bookies and other City observers, who had speculated that favourites to take the job included people with a higher profile in the Square Mile, such as Brian Williamson, the chairman of Liffe, or Paul Myners, the former chairman of Gartmore. Mr Gibson-Smith acknowledged that he was not a "City grandee", but added that his career path fitted well with the LSE's changing role.

"The exchange has been in almost constant evolution, the final part of which was becoming a plc. It is a plc in a very competitive international world and I have spent my life in that world."

After being one of BP's five managing directors since 1997, Mr Gibson-Smith left to take on the role of chairman at the National Air Traffic Services, where he brokered a £130m Government bail-out of the institution.

In 2001, Mr Gibson-Smith's final year at the oil giant, he took home £2.5m, including cashing in £1.3m of share options, and is due a BP pension of £420,000 a year. The 57-year-old will be paid £250,000 as chairman of the LSE.

Clara Furse, the LSE's chief executive, insisted Mr Gibson-Smith fulfilled all of the criteria the institution had been searching for in a new chairman. "The board was looking for a senior business figure with success at operating on the international stage and with a strong knowledge of technology. So Chris's appointment was an obvious one," she said.

Ms Furse claimed that the appointment of Mr Cruickshank, the dour Scot who used to head up the telecoms regulator, was the first breaking of the mould at the LSE. Before Mr Cruickshank the exchange had been headed up by City establishment figures such as Sir John Kemp-Welch, a former partner at Cazenove.

Mr Gibson-Smith remained tight-lipped on the vexed question of whether the LSE would be stepping up its attempts to sign a major acquisition or merger on his watch.

"I will wait and see. I am not deeply enough in yet and it depends on the specifics of the deal," he said.

Ms Furse and Mr Cruickshank have come under fire for failing to nail a deal. Their most damaging miss is thought to have been the failed attempt to buy London's financial derivatives exchange, Liffe.

LSE shares moved up 3.25p to 303.25p yesterday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'