The London Stock Exchange has issued a statement defending its chief executive Clara Furse against a "malicious" whispering campaign which it claims is designed to undermine the business and reputation of the Exchange.
In the statement, LSE chairman Don Crucikshank said the Exchange and its chief executive has been subjected to a "despicable" dirty tricks campaign. The Exchange points to an article in a UK Sunday newspaper as the latest evidence of "a number of unfounded rumours circulating in the market, some of them libellous and deeply offensive".
The London Stock Exchange says it rejects the "outrageous, totally unfounded and offensive slurs" on the business achievements of Furse. It adds that any further attempts to disseminate such statements will be pursued "with the utmost vigour", including legal action.
Furse, a former investment banker at Credit Lyonnais, became the first female boss at the Exchange when she took over the helm in January 2001 from Gavin Casey following the failed merger attempt with Deutsche Borse. LSE chairman Don Cruickshank says the Exchange under her leadership is "light years ahead of where it was just a few years ago".
He points to heavy investment in the Sets trading platform, the recent creation of a new equity derivatives business with OM Gruppen, the acquisition of market data outfit ProQuote (at a price that has baffled many in the City), and the launch of the covered warrants market as evidence of Furse's achievements.
"To denigrate and attempt to hurt a successful chief executive may be sport to some, but is nothing less than despicable," he says. "Over the past two years, Clara has delivered a well-thought-through and well-executed strategy to widen the scope and scale of the business."
The London Stock Exchange is considered pivotal to the future direction of European equity markets, with continental rivals Euronext and Deutsche Borse both coveting an alliance/takeover.