Dame Clara Furse is planning to step down from her role as chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, it was reported today.
No formal timetable has been put in place for her departure, and it is thought to be unlikely that she will leave before the autumn of 2009, while she could remain in post until 2010.
The group’s chairman Chris Gibson-Smith is understood to have been discussing the issue of her succession with boardroom colleagues, including Furse herself.
A leading City head hunting firm has also been hired to oversee the appointment process, according to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
Furse, who has earned the nickname Queen Clara, has been chief executive of the LSE since 2001, and news that she is planning to depart is likely to surprise the City.
An LSE spokesman said today: “Clara has been with the Exchange for eight years and it’s natural that the board is thinking about succession planning.
“Clara remains fully committed to the Exchange’s continued success and, in particular, to the completion of its integration with Borsa Italiana.”
During her time in charge Furse has defended the group from a string of hostile takeover bids, including one from US-based market operator Nasdaq, the exchange’s German counterpart Deutsche Borse and Australian banking group Macquarie.
The LSE has also been subject to stake-building by the Qatari Investment Authority and rival Borse Dubai.
It has been ramping up efforts to defend itself against tougher competition over the past year, increasing its European reach with a £1.1bn (€1.4bn) acquisition of Milan-based Borsa Italiana.