FN25: Xavier Rolet on battling Brexit and the future of London

As part of our 25th anniversary celebrations, Financial News has profiled 25 of the most influential figures in the City over the past quarter of a century. Here’s why Xavier Rolet made the cut.

When Xavier Rolet speaks, the financial world takes notice. As chief executive of London Stock Exchange Group during the Brexit vote, he was and remains an outspoken critic of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

He warned in 2017 that Brexit could end up costing 232,000 financial services jobs. More recently he said the loss of stock trading was a “sideshow” compared to swaps, which he believes is the real barometer, and that recent attempts by UK regulators to come to an understanding with their EU counterparts are too late.

“There is a question mark today, which certainly did not exist five to 15 years ago, as to whether London will be able to retain that leading central position in terms of providing the infrastructure and all the ancillary services that are essential to a properly functioning, capitalist economy,” he tells Financial News.

His position on the city’s future is informed by decades of experience working in the UK capital and other financial hubs.

READ Financial News’s list of the 25 biggest City influencers as we turn 25

After leaving his native France, Rolet began his career in finance at Goldman Sachs working in its London and New York offices between 1984 and 1994. He then spent time at Credit Suisse and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, before joining Lehman Brothers in New York, London and Paris. He ended his tenure at Lehman as the CEO of its French operations.

Rolet became CEO of LSEG in 2009. During his time at the helm of the London bourse he oversaw a massive expansion of the group, in which its market valuation grew from $800m to more than $14bn. He was also ranked as one of the top 100 CEOs in 2017 by the Harvard Business Review.

He stepped down as LSEG’s chief in 2017, a few months after an attempted merger with Germany’s Deutsche Börse was blocked by European Union regulators. He had a stint as CEO of asset management firm CQS, and is now chair and chief executive of World Quantum Growth Acquisition Corporation, a special purpose acquisition company listed in New York. He has given up his chairmanship of Russian fertiliser company PhosAgro, after EU sanctions were placed on the founder of the company, Russian oligarch, Andrey G Guryev.

As the world tackles issues such as climate change, Rolet believes globalisation and cooperation is needed.

“I disagree with the notion that globalisation has gone in reverse. I think the political debate is taking it in that direction,” he says. “The sooner we reduce that gap and start communicating and working together again the better off we will be.”

Rolet is chair and CEO of World Quantum Growth Acquisition Corp. He is the former CEO of London Stock Exchange Group.

For more from our 25th anniversary special, just click here.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Jeremy Chan

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