David Schwimmer is a partner at Goldman Sachs
Need a boss for a global financial institution? Where else to look but Goldman Sachs. The White House may have parted with Gary Cohn, and Bill Dudley is stepping back from the New York Fed, but Mark Carney and Ben Broadbent are keeping the flag flying at the Bank of England and Mario Draghi still leads the European Central Bank.
In choosing David Schwimmer as London Stock Exchange chief executive, chairman Donald Brydon has found a substitute for another Goldman old hand, Carsten Kengeter, the Deutsche Boerse boss he wanted to take over had the merger gone ahead.
Schwimmer comes without the baggage of a Frankfurt insider trading probe. But he did have a spot of bother over conflict-of-interest allegations when he worked on the merger of the New York Stock Exchange with Archipelago in 2005. If you work at Goldman, where tentacles reach into every aspect of finance, who doesn’t?
The chief executive job at the LSE has been vacant for six months since Xavier Rolet – who worked for Goldman early in his career – was shown the door after an unseemly boardroom battle, which led Carney to intervene. The last thing the City needed was an affray at one of its three pillars – the Bank, Lloyd’s of London or the LSE.
Now that Brydon has found a replacement for Rolet, with an initial employment package of up to £4.5million (with more to come in the future), there seems no reason for senior non-executive director Paul Heiden and the board to hang around until 2019 to replace Brydon. There are plenty of suitable candidates to be tapped up, including Michael Spencer, Elizabeth Corley of Allianz Global Investors, John Cryan, just separated from Deutsche Bank, or John McFarlane who is looking for a Barclays exit.
It may be too late for Schwimmer to head off the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the pass with an offer for trading platform Nex. But it is imperative he shows the same resolve as some of his predecessors in freezing out unwanted bids and preserving the LSE’s presence as Europe’s dominant and most liquid market.
The LSE has been daft to be so welcoming to unprincipled Russian companies such as EN+ and not put up a better public fight to keep Unilever’s principal quote in London. What’s good for those other Anglo-Dutch enterprises Shell and Relx ought to be right for the country’s admired Dove-to-Ben & Jerry’s group.
David Tyler: Chairman of Hammerson
Amazing what happens if you have steel running through your veins.
With the City claque after a quick cash exit, shares in UK shopping centre leader Hammerson soared on the £5bn bid from French upstarts Klepierre.
But after chairman David Tyler withstood the pressure, the French predator has walked away. It makes a difference if companies have leaders with experience of how the takeover game is played and are willing to defy the short-term instincts of investment banks, hedge funds and long investors who can’t wait to cash out and boost performance.
After Hammerson shares fell 9pc yesterday, it has no time to rest on its laurels. Hammerson needs to convince the market that the merger with rival Intu is the right thing and will pay off over the longer haul.
That will require a sweetener for investors distrustful of shopping generally after a miserable start to the year which has seen a long list of retailers, including Toys R Us, Carpetright, Maplin, Mothercare and others, suffering. Even the best-in-class, such as John Lewis and Next, are fighting the demons of online, business rates and changing consumer habits. Quite a big ask. But if Tesco, Lidl, Inditex (owner of Zara) and JD Sports can do it, there must be a way.
Having finally fixed succession at the LSE, the ubiquitous Donald Brydon will need to become fully engaged as chairman of Sage. Shares in Britain’s largest quoted tech group sunk 8.1pc after the Newcastle firm admitted that ‘inconsistent operational execution’ – polite for bad management – caused it to cut growth targets.
That kind of slip led activists, overseas bargain hunters and vultures to swoop at GKN, First Group, Micro Focus et al. The market cannot be bucked. But allowing another tech to follow ARM, Misys, Worldpay and Nex overseas should not be an option.
Dominant investor Standard Life Aberdeen, with a 7.5 per cent stake, must stick with the cause.