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Euronext gets in Dutch
When ParisBourse created Euronext in September 2000 by merging with Brussels Exchanges and Amsterdam Exchanges, the Netherlands' financial community demanded that a Dutchman -- George Möller, CEO of Amsterdam Exchanges -- be put in charge of the new pan-European bourse after four years.
When ParisBourse created Euronext in September 2000 by merging with Brussels Exchanges and Amsterdam Exchanges, the Netherlands' financial community demanded that a Dutchman -- George Möller, CEO of Amsterdam Exchanges -- be put in charge of the new pan-European bourse after four years. That period is up in September, but Möller won't be running Euronext.
Instead, the Paris-based exchange's supervisory board last month reappointed Frenchman Jean-François Théodore, Euronext's principal architect, to another three-year term as its chairman and CEO. A disappointed Möller, who is now Euronext COO, plans to resign from his post in March.
Officially, Euronext would only say that the board's decision to snub Möller and stick with the 57-year-old Théodore was motivated by "the need for continuity under the proven, strategic leadership of the present chief executive." But as one Euronext insider explains, the board felt that Möller "lacked the pugnacity, diplomacy and vision" to pull off further mergers. Théodore's nimble negotiating skills have already added the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange and the Bolsa de Valores de Lisboa to the Euronext fold.
Justified or not, the decision of the 12-person Euronext board -- only three of whose members are Dutch -- "has added to a growing distrust of Euronext in Holland at a critical juncture for trading here," says Willem Meijer, head of equity capital markets at SNS Securities and a board member of the Dutch brokers' association.
Meijer points out that Dutch brokers can resort to other exchanges, such as Euronext rivals Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange, that now purport to trade Dutch stocks more cheaply. Sniffs a Euronext spokeswoman, "We believe that our system will continue to offer the greatest liquidity and thus the tightest spreads to investors." Euronext says it wants "an executive of Dutch origin with senior responsibilities" to replace Möller.