WHAT THE MEDIA SAY: Sex of LSE's Furse ruffles few feathers

Organisation: London Stock Exchange

Organisation: London Stock Exchange

Issue: new CEO

There was little surprise following the London Stock Exchange's (LSE) announcement of its new CEO on 24 January.

Reports of Clara Furse's appointment had been leaked over the preceding days by online news site Breaking-views.com. The media took the fact that she was the first female CEO the LSE has had in its 200-year history in their stride, and devoted most attention to whether she had the correct pedigree for the position.

There was some concern over Ms Furse's apparent lack of stock market experience, although her intelligence, management capability, communications and IT skills were never doubted.

Equally, there was little question over whether Ms Furse would be strong enough to deal with the formidable task of forming a new strategy to take LSE forward in an ever more competitive, globalised and consolidating market. Her management style was frequently described as the 'iron fist in a velvet glove' (Daily Mail, 27/1).

Furse referred to her new post as 'the most interesting job in the City' (Independent, 25/1), and yet it proved a 'poisoned chalice' (Breakingviews.com, 22/1) for her three predecessors, all of whom left in controversial circumstances.

Furse's enthusiasm for the job was matched by the widespread approval of her appointment, from both within the LSE and from the City generally, an optimism that was relayed in the LSE's share value.

Brian Winterflood, LSE shareholder and Winterflood Securities CEO, summed it up: 'I think the boys have made a mess of it, let the girls have a chance' (Lasvegassun.com, 24/1).

Some of the tasks set out for Furse included reforming the LSE from an 'old boys club' (Observer, 28/1) rife with factionalism, to a unified corporate entity, marking out a new technology strategy and alliance game-plan.

There were high expectations that Furse may also be able to 'polish (the LSE's) tarnished image' (startribune.com, 24/1).

Hugh Marsden, a partner at SP Angel & Co, said 'We've definitely got a tremendous amount of ground to make up on the PR front. I think she is going to come across very well' (lasvegassun.com, 24/1).

Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found at: www.echoResearch.com.

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