Outsider was under fire from the start

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The Independent Online
DAVID HELLIER

Michael Lawrence had difficulties as chief executive of the Stock Exchange right from the start, as he tried to get to grips with the competing problems of different interest groups.

After only six months in the job critics were showing a willingness to snipe at him off the record. One key member of a big securities house said in July 1994: "Let's just say that he could have made a better start."

Later, other critics, such as David Jones, the chief executive of Sharelink, and Rudolph Muller, head of the London operations of the Swiss investment bank UBS, both former exchange members, were ready to go public in their doubts about strategy under Mr Lawrence.

Sources close to the Exchange said last night that Lawrence slipped on three bigbanana skins: he rowed with Sharelink, the execution-only stockbroker which he threatened to sue; he had a poor relationship with the Bank of England which has led the development of Crest, the computerised back office settlement system; and he tried to strengthen the recommendations of the Greenbury Committee whose recommendations were due to become part of the "Yellow Book" rules of the exchange.

Last night the former chief executive of the Exchange, Peter Rawlins, displayed some sympathy for Mr Lawrence. "Being the chief executive is a pretty impossible job. By definition you are dealing with a huge range of non-converging interests. The root of the problem is that serving the interests of the membership is in no way coinicident with serving the interests of the wider investment community.

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