Spread-betting chief quits IG

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The Independent Online

Nat le Roux is stepping down as the chief executive of IG Group barely a year after he netted about £6m from the flotation of the spread betting company.

Mr Le Roux, who has run IG for a little over four years, wants to pursue "other interests", but will remain on the board as non-executive deputy chairman, working one day a week.

He is planning to study for a doctorate in a psychology-related subject and will spend the next year fine-tuning his choice of course.

Mr Le Roux's successor is Tim Howkins, a former Ernst & Young accountant and IG's finance director for the past seven years. The search is under way for his replacement.

Mr Howkins said yesterday: "Looking at the business, it's a natural point of transition. The last few years have been about building the technology and the infrastructure that we need for international expansion. The next few years will be about rolling that out.

"Apart from the UK and Australia, the exciting places at the moment are Ireland and continental Europe, and I think we'll be doing a lot of business there in the coming years."

News of Mr Le Roux's departure unsettled investors. IG shares were marked 3.25 lower to 228p - the steepest fall by any constituent of the FTSE 250 index - despite a muscular update on likely annual results. Profits before tax are expected to surge 40 per cent to £50m in the year to the end of this month. Sales are likely to have jumped 37 per cent to more than £85m after IG won more customers and more bets were laid. .

Mr Le Roux is credited with steadying the business after a string of profits warnings left IG friendless within the City. He led a management buyout in 2003 for a bargain £143m.It was valued last night at £757.3m.