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Francioni takes over at Deutsche Börse

Reto Francioni is no stranger at the Deutsche Börse in Frankfurt

(Keystone)

The German stock exchange Deutsche Börse has, as expected, confirmed Reto Francioni of Switzerland as its new chief executive.

Francioni, who was until recently chairman of the Swiss stock exchange (SWX) in Zurich, is to replace another Swiss, Werner Seifert, "at the earliest possible date".

Deutsche Börse said on Monday in a statement that its four-member supervisory board had confirmed the appointment, after nominating Francioni as the only candidate for the post a month ago.

Nine days after the nomination from Frankfurt, Francioni was relieved of his duties as chairman of the SWX with immediate effect.

Media reports suggested that the decision was based partly on Francioni's recommendation that a former head of the Zurich bourse, Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter, should succeed him.

Failed bid

Deutsche Börse had been searching for a new chief executive since May following the resignation of Seifert, who was forced out after he launched a failed bid to take over the London Stock Exchange.

Analysts have said that Francioni's return to Deutsche Börse, where he worked for seven years until 2000, could boost the chances of a merger with the SWX. The Zurich bourse rejected such an offer by the Frankfurt firm last year.

Such a deal would create Europe's third-largest bourse and form a first decisive step towards European bourse consolidation after Euronext was created out of the Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels exchanges in 2000.

Exchange mergers have been expected since 12 countries of the European Union introduced the euro but exchange managers have not found it easy to convince their shareholders that mergers can bring about real benefits.

Deutsche Börse has said it might re-enter the race for the London bourse, Europe's biggest stock exchange, if Euronext makes an offer.

Struggling Eurex

Analysts expect Francioni's arrival to lead to a solution for the ailing United States business of the world's top derivative market Eurex, which is co-owned by Deutsche Börse and SWX.

Eurex, which Francioni helped set up in 1998, is struggling to make inroads into the market for US Treasury derivatives.

After taking over as SWX chairman in 2002, Francioni guided the Zurich bourse into a number of international cooperation deals, including the acquisition of the pan-European virt-x stock exchange in 2003.

The purchase of the part of virt-x SWX did not already own in 2003 gave SWX closer ties to the City of London and won back trading volume in large Swiss stocks which it had lost to the London stock exchange.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Deutsche Börse had been searching for a new chief executive since May, following the resignation of Werner Seifert.
Reto Francioni, aged 50, knows both the Swiss and German bourses well. He was on the board of Deutsche Börse from 1993 to 2000 and has been at the SWX since 2002.
Francioni has proposed Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter to replace him as chairman of the SWX. The Zurich bourse noted this but said it would make a decision "in due course".

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