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German bourse aims for another Swiss as CEO

Reto Francioni is clear favourite to become CEO at the Deutsche Börse

(Keystone Archive)

The chairman of the Swiss stock exchange (SWX), Reto Francioni, looks set to replace another Swiss as the head of the German bourse, Deutsche Börse.

Francioni was recommended by Deutsche Börse to replace Werner Seifert, who resigned as chief executive in May after a failed attempt to take over the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

The Frankfurt stock exchange operator said on Monday the personnel committee of its supervisory board had recommended the move. Francioni has accepted the nomination.

Reuters news agency comments that approval by the influential committee means that backing by the full board at its next meeting on October 10 is virtually assured.

It adds that if confirmed in the position, Francioni could boost the chances of a merger between Deutsche Börse and the Swiss exchange he now heads.

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

Personal statement

In a personal statement offering himself as a candidate, Francioni said that he would show "unflagging commitment" as long as he remained in his current position.

"If the election in Germany is in my favour, there will be talks about when I should make the transfer.

"I will do everything within my power to ensure that there is no discontinuity in the management of the Swiss stock exchange," he added.

Francioni is recommending that a former head of the Zurich-based bourse, Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter, succeed him at the SWX.

"Hunziker-Ebneter is ideally qualified for this position and was decisive in shaping the SWX into a powerful and internationally-respected securities exchange over a period of several years," he said.

At the helm

One of Francioni's first achievements at the helm of the SWX was to buy in 2003 the part of the pan-European bourse virt-x that SWX did not already own.

The deal gave SWX closer ties to the City of London and won back trading volumes in Swiss blue chips it had lost to the LSE.

Francioni, who studied law in Zurich, helped in 1998 set up Eurex, the world's largest derivatives exchange, a joint venture between SWX and Deutsche Börse.

He worked on Deutsche Börse's board of directors from 1993 to 2000, helping launch the Xetra trading system.

He left the board in the wake of a dispute with fellow Swiss Seifert.

The one criticism from German media is that Francioni was responsible for creating the Neuer Markt (New Market), which collapsed when the technology bubble burst and was the shut down.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Deutsche Börse has 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.
The supervisory board of the Deutsche Börse is to decide on Francioni's nomination on October 10.
Former SWX chief executive Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter is being recommended to become chairwoman to succeed Francioni if his candidacy is successful.

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