London Stock Exchange shareholders seek answers over Xavier Rolet’s departure

Another top ten shareholder in the London Stock Exchange is seeking urgent clarification from the board about the alleged forced resignation of Xavier Rolet, the chief executive.

In a move that will pile pressure on Donald Brydon, chairman of the LSE, The Times understands that one of the top ten investors will be asking the board to provide convincing evidence that a proper governance process was followed over the departure of Mr Rolet, who will leave at the end of next year unless a successor is found sooner.

The shareholder will be seeking information on when the stock exchange first began to consider Mr Rolet’s position as well as details on when the Financial Conduct Authority first became involved. The investor said that the whole process appeared to have been “very rushed”. There was growing speculation in the market yesterday that Mr Rolet was “ambushed” by Mr Brydon, who had misjudged the popularity of the French chief executive.

The latest development comes a few days after the Children’s Investment Fund, led by Sir Christopher Hohn, wrote to Mr Brydon demanding an extraordinary meeting of shareholders. Sir Christopher said he wanted shareholders to vote on removing Mr Brydon as a director. This would be “in effect, a vote on whether shareholders wish to retain Xavier as chief executive”, he added.

Mr Rolet, who has been chief executive for almost nine years, had planned to quit in the summer when a merger with Deutsche Börse was complete. However, after the merger collapsed, he said “it looks like my retirement is postponed”. Speculation was growing that Mr Brydon’s position could become untenable unless he can convince the exchange’s biggest shareholders that Mr Rolet was not forced to resign. One market source said it was likely that either Mr Brydon or Mr Rolet would have to go sooner than expected “as it could be difficult for them to work together until the end of next year”.

The LSE declined to comment other than reiterating an earlier statement that it had followed a “proper governance process to plan for an orderly succession for the CEO”.