The London Stock Exchange has hired a headhunter to find a replacement for chief executive Clara Furse, who has fended off a string of hostile takeovers during her eight year tenure at the LSE helm.
The LSE has confirmed the succession planning process, but says that Furse is likely to remain in place until the end of next year at the earliest as she completes the integration with Borsa Italiania, acquired by the London exchange last year.
"Clara has been with the exchange for eight years and it's natural that the board is thinking about succession planning," says LSE spokesman Patrick Humphris.
Furse has won admirers in City circles for her steely determination in rebuffing successive takeover attempts by Deutsche Bourse and Nasdaq. But the largely defensive strategy adopted under Furse's reign has also been called into question as the LSE faces a new wave of competition from alternative execution venues such as Chi-X and Turquoise.
The Exchange's plans to take on the competition by launching a new dark pool facility, dubbed Baikal, have been thrown into disarray by the collapse of investment banking partner Lehman Brothers. The LSE nonetheless insists the Baikal development is still on the agenda as it negotiates with Lehman's new owners Nomura and Barclays and seeks support from other prospective backers.