LSE's new chairman starts in hard times

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The Independent Online

Chris Gibson-Smith yesterday began his role as chairman of the London Stock Exchange on a gloomy note, as Europe's largest bourse reported a lacklustre performance in the three months to the end of June.

A continuing scarcity of flotations, plus a drop in the size of share trades meant that turnover edged up just 0.3 per cent in the first quarter to £58.7m.

The LSE was also hit by a fall in the number of electronic screens in City dealing rooms. The screens, provided by companies such as Reuters, have been cut to reflect the swathes of job losses among the workforce of investment banks and fund managers.

The LSE was affected by the reduction in the number of screens because it receives a fee from their suppliers for displaying the exchange's real-time prices and other data.

Clara Furse, the chief executive, said: "The current year is proving challenging but broadly in line with our expectations. We are investing in new markets to expand and diversify our business."

The LSE put out the trading statement ahead of its annual meeting, at which Mr Gibson-Smith, a former director of BP and chairman of the National Air Traffic Services, took over the chairman's mantle from Don Cruickshank.

His appointment surprised the City, because he was not an LSE insider. But Ms Furse said the appointment reflected a desire to appoint someone with wide business experience in order to assist it in its strategy of modernising the exchange.

The LSE said there were 40 new issues on its markets during the quarter, compared to 71 a year ago.