Deutsche Börse Hires Search Firm For CEO

Shanny Basar

Deutsche Börse, the German exchange operator, has appointed a firm to carry out an accelerated search for a new chief executive to replace Carsten Kengeter.

Gregor Pottmeyer, Deutsche Börse

Gregor Pottmeyer, chief financial officer of Deutsche Börse, said on a results call this morning that a search firm was appointed yesterday. He said: “It will be an accelerated process as we want to make an appointment as soon as possible. Ideally it will be before the end of the year.”

Yesterday Kengeter informed the Deutsche Börse board that he would like to step down as chief executive, effective 31 December 2017 in order to allow the company to focus on business, clients and growth, and to avoid further burdens caused by the ongoing insider trading investigation.

This week a German court refused to approve a proposed settlement between Kengeter and criminal prosecutors  over allegations of insider trading ahead of the announcement of Deutsche Börse’s failed merger with the London Stock Exchange Group. Kengeter was due to make a payment €50ok and the investigation would be dropped but the judge rejected this deal.

Pottmeyer said: “The investigation is in the hands of the public persecutor who has to decide on further procedures.”

Kyle Voigt and Matthew Moon, analysts at financial services specialists KBW, said in a note that the  insider trading probe has been an overhang on the stock, and raised questions regarding the company’s focus and commitment to execute against its “Accelerate” strategy which was initiated by Kengeter.

“At some point, it’s better to move on from the probe rather than let this investigation linger and potentially distract the company, executive management team, and employees,” added KBW. “We are unsure if the company will look to hire internally or externally.”

On the results call Pottmeyer said the management team was fully committed to implementing the strategy. He also gave a profit warning for this year due to low volatility.

“Our secular growth initiatives are well on track,” added Pottmeyer. However, due to prevailing negative cyclical effects, we will very likely not be able to fully meet our targets for the financial year 2017.”

He continued that the group remains well positioned to benefit from secular and cyclical growth over the medium term and affirmed its forecast for annual earnings growth of between 10% and 15% for 2018 and 2019.

Patrick Young, chief executive of Exchange Invest, said in his daily email newsletter: “At best flat. Clearstream the bulk of modest earnings uptick as the abject lack of a strategy is writ large. True, we finally saw some movement (but too little, too late and too slow an exit) on the profoundly inept failed chief executive.”

Pottmeyer added that opportunities with expected double-digit growth next year include over-the-counter clearing, new Eurex products, commodities, foreign exchange, Clearstream (T2S), investment funds, and the index business.

The group expects growth in Eurex Clearing after the UK leaves the European Union. Rival LCH, owned by the London Stock Exchange Group, currently clears the vast majority of interest rate swaps globally.

“After Brexit regulators are unlikely to accept the status quo,” said Pottmeyer. “Clients are very nervous, especially buyside firms, as they only use one CCP for interest rate swaps.”

This month Deutsche Börse announced a partnership program designed to develop an  alternative liquidity pool for interest rate swaps clearing based in the European Union.

The ten most active program participants will be eligible for a significant share in the economics of the multi-currency interest rate swap offering of Eurex Clearing on a permanent basis. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley have registered their interest to take part in the program.

Pottmeyer said: “Interest is enormous from a broad range of EU and US banks. We have very high confidence that a second liquidity pool will emerge, which is what Europe needs under the circumstances.”

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