The Business On... Xavier Rolet, Chief executive, London Stock Exchange
Tuesday 26 October 2010
He doesn't sound much like a City blue blood, does he?
He's not: Mr Rolet is a Frenchman, hired 18 months ago to give the London Stock Exchange a kick up the backside. And the takeover of the Australian exchange by Singapore demonstrates how much that is needed. The exchange wars are back on. Still, although he grew up in a relatively tough suburb of Paris, there is now a whiff of the City establishment about Mr Rolet – he counts Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs among his previous employers.
Don't the French want to pinch the City's business?
Maybe, but Mr Rolet is not part of the conspiracy: he is much more interested in the LSE's bottom line. And, as he will no doubt tell today's Treasury Select Committee hearing into City regulation, he wants less red tape, not more of it, as many of his continental European friends have been asking for. Too much regulation will stifle financial services and the economy, he will say.
A force to be reckoned with?
Beware the quiet man, you might say. Softly spoken and disarmingly charming, Mr Rolet is nonetheless a tough cookie, and not just in business. He successfully completed the Dakar rally last year, a feat that gets the better of many amateur competitors (though he is not planning to compete again – the cost of insuring the boss of a FTSE 100 company is prohibitively expensive).
Goodness, an action hero?
Well he does say an expensive diving timepiece is his favourite gadget in the world. On the other hand, he is an amateur beekeeper – they can sting, we know, but it's not exactly James Bond.
And what do his compatriots think of him now?
It's hard to say. No doubt they like the idea of one of their own infiltrating the system, but Mr Rolet has some funny ideas. He owns vineyards in southern France but doesn't think much of the fusty French appellation d'origine contrôlée system. His wine is branded, New World-style – and look out for Chêne Bleu, which has won international prizes.
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