Xavier Rolet's departure comes at a delicate moment for London Stock Exchange

Emma Haslett
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Xavier Rolet will step down as chief executive of London Stock Exchange by the end of 2018. (Source: Getty)

Mid-October is not a great time for the City, it turns out. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Black Monday; it was during October 2007 that we began a headlong plunge into the global financial crisis.

And yesterday, horror of horrors, one of its central institutions, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE), announced the impending departure of its boss.

By the time he steps down at the end of next year, Xavier Rolet will have been chief executive for nine years. During his time at the company, he has become an increasingly fierce defender of his adopted city. This has become more important since the Brexit vote, as rival centres – including his former home, Paris – gang up to thumb their noses and attempt to steal London’s finance crown.

Rolet’s departure will come at a delicate time for the LSE, which is not only fighting on behalf of the Square Mile, but is also waging a parallel war over euro denominated clearing. The European Central Bank is threatening to seize control of London's prize clearing sector with proposed new rules around oversight. Such a move represents a direct threat to the LSE and its clearing house, LCH Group, which oversees a vast portion of euro clearing activities.

Although investor confidence in the City has been strong since the referendum, comments by the likes of Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, who tweeted yesterday that he will be “spending a lot more time” in Frankfurt, do not help.

As the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers’ French arm, Rolet knows a thing or two about crisis management, and has proven as much since the Brexit vote. The fact London Stock Exchange Group’s share price has risen more than 50 per cent since last year's referendum is testament to this.

In Rolet the LSE has someone who can speak on behalf of the City, but can equally see things from a Continental point of view; someone who may have opposed Brexit during campaigning, but after the event calmly took on the challenge of preparing the company for a life outside the EU.

So the LSE has an unenviable task when it comes to finding his replacement. The Frenchman himself has not said what he will do next, but he will be missed.

Read more: Xavier Rolet bets the UK can create an £100bn company in the fintech sector

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