View from City Road: Exco culture strikes back

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The Independent Online
Nobody expects to hold down a job for long in financial markets these days but even by City standards for Exco to heave its chief executive Ron Sandler overboard just three months after the float seems a bit much. Certainly it took everyone by surprise, including the company's own broking firm, Kleinwort Benson, which issued a profits downgrade.

Is this just another example of a boardroom punch-up in the hard- nosed, hurly-burly money broking fraternity, or does it presage more fundamental problems? Analysts are taking the charitable view, but that didn't stop the shares falling yesterday to within 4p of the float price.

Mr Sandler is a relative new boy at Exco, with just 18 months service behind him. Although he helped to turn around the Trio money broking business, which reversed into RP Martin in the 1980s, his background is as a management consultant with Booz Allen and Hamilton.

The impression yesterday was of an established company culture reasserting itself over the man who spearheaded Exco's institutional presentations in the run-up to the float.

His replacement, Peter Edge, is by contrast a money broker through and through, and has been with the group for 14 years. It may be entirely reasonable for a firm of money brokers to be run by a money broker, but forcing Mr Sandler to walk the plank so soon after the ship set sail nevertheless seems a pretty whacky thing to have done.