Who could succeed Xavier Rolet as LSEG’s CEO?

Written by Hayley McDowell, senior reporter

Speculation has run rampant following Xavier Rolet’s decision to step down as the chief executive officer at the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). With his departure due by the end of December 2018, the board at LSEG has already initiated a process to find a successor and will work closely with Rolet to ensure a smooth transition. There is no doubt Rolet has left his mark on the LSEG, having led the exchange operator for nine years and increasing its market capitalisation from £800 million to almost £14 billion. Here we look at those who are suited and potentially in-line for the position.

Dr Kay Swinburne MEP was one of the first tipped to be Rolet’s successor. A career in investment banking equipped Swinburne with expert knowledge of global financial markets, leading to her appointment on the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee in European Parliament. Swinburne’s role in shaping European financial markets and impending regulation MiFID II places her in an interesting position should she take over as the new leader of the LSEG. Her concerns around Europe adopting financial regulation without having properly looked at the impacts has encouraged her to pursue a more global approach to the operation of markets. Swinburne’s overall experience, expertise and understanding of the markets, in our opinion, place her at the forefront of potential candidates to become the new CEO of LSEG.

Having been with the LSEG since 1985 when he joined to navigate the ‘Big Bang’, Mark Makepeace is a true veteran of the exchange group and has been influential in the paths it has taken. In 1995 Makepeace founded FTSE International, which has become one of the profitable businesses at LSEG and indeed one of the most successful index businesses in the world. Makepeace’s career has seen him develop and forge alliances with other exchange operators, industry groups and academics globally. His approach to developing new initiatives and overall understanding of the exchange group leaves no doubt of Makepeace’s ability to take the LSEG into the future.   

Perhaps considered the underdog of those tipped to succeed Rolet, Robert Barnes certainly makes our list of contenders. Throughout his career, Barnes has become a prominent and influential figure in the exchange world. He became chief executive officer at Turquoise in 2013 and the business has certainly evolved and thrived under his leadership. Prior to joining LSEG he stood on key advisory and policy groups within the financial services sector, including as chairman of the Securities Trading Committee of the London Investment Bank Association. In our opinion, Barnes’ extensive knowledge and expertise on market structure, regulatory change and electronic trading could see him revolutionise the exchange as he has done with Turquoise.

With a varied career experience working not only at one of Europe’s largest exchange groups, but also technology and market solutions firms, it could prove to be a game-changer if Mark Hemsley takes the reigns at LSEG. He went from being one of the first employees at Bats exchange to leading the significant merger between Bats and Chi-X. Now, as president at recently rebranded Cboe Global Markets, Hemsley’s experience of the exchange world and position as an industry influencer place him at the forefront of our top candidates to take over at LSEG.

Certainly the rumour mill will continue to spout other potential successors and regardless of whom the LSEG chooses to undertake the role, being the chief executive officer of one of the worlds most prominent and influential exchange groups is no easy task. With Rolet’s legacy well and truly established, the road ahead for his successor could well be full of scrutiny, but ultimately they will have the invaluable opportunity to help shape the industry for future generations.