Attracting Saudi Aramco IPO still ‘a focus’ for London exchange

LSE said operating profit for last year rose to £626 million. (Reuters)
Updated 02 March 2018
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Attracting Saudi Aramco IPO still ‘a focus’ for London exchange

LONDON: London Stock Exchange Group emerged from what was a troubling 2017 with a 47 percent profit jump despite turgid markets, helping to ease lingering concern over management upheaval and its aborted Deutsche Boerse merger.
The exchange also said that hosting an expected initial public offering of part of Saudi Aramco remains “a focus.”
The company has come under fire from activist investor TCI over the departure of CEO Xavier Rolet in the wake of the collapsed Deutsche Boerse deal but was able to offer a more upbeat message on Friday with full-year results buoyed by record volumes across multiple clearing services and company flotations that hit a three-year high.
Though interim chief David Warren ruled himself out as permanent CEO, the company said it had made “good progress” in its search from a “strong field of high-quality candidates.”
Without a permanent chief executive LSE could be more vulnerable to a potential takeover. TCI, which holds a 5.17 percent stake in LSE, has predicted a 15 billion pound ($20.7 billion) bid for the group from transatlantic rivals ICE and CME Group.
In a conference call with reporters, Warren declined to comment on takeover bids but said that LSE was confident in its standalone prospects.
“I have strong ambition ... to continue in this interim role as the search goes on. (Beyond that) I remain firmly committed to remaining as CFO,” he added.
Warren declined to comment on a timeline for any appointment and did not say whether LSE had spoken to TCI about candidates.
TCI had sought the removal of chairman Donald Brydon over the handling of Rolet’s departure. The former CEO stepped down in November after nearly a decade in the role, during which he transformed the company with a string of deals, lifting its market value from less than £1 billion ($1.4 billion) to almost £14 billion.
Whoever takes over as CEO will be charged with leading LSE’s efforts to woo oil giant Saudi Aramco to London for what is widely expected to be the world’s largest initial public offering.
“It’s very much in our interest to do this. I think there is a lot about London which is very, very attractive ... It certainly has been a focus and continues to be,” Warren said.


India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

Visitors are seen standing next to a logo of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the bank's head office in Mumbai on December 5, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

  • Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization

MUMBAI: Ex-finance ministry official Shaktikanta Das took charge of the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday, in a swift appointment expected to ease a dispute with the government as it pushes for looser credit rules ahead of a general election.
The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration came just a day after Urjit Patel resigned from the post, following months of clashes between the two institutions over lending curbs and how to deploy the central bank’s surplus reserves.
Pressure on the RBI to take immediate steps to boost the economy, including a transfer of the excess reserves to the government, could well rise after Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered likely election losses in three key states on Tuesday.
Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization — will serve a three-year term as governor, effective immediately.
RBI watchers said they expected the 61-year-old, who retired last year as secretary of the department of economic affairs having previously served on the RBI’s board, to put relations between the Mumbai-based bank and the finance ministry in New Delhi on a stabler footing.
Investors will also look closely at his ability to hold up against outside influences after recent efforts by the Modi government to gain greater control over the central bank’s regulatory powers.
“The incoming governor will have to work hard to prove that he has his own independent mind,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at Hdfc Securities.
Investors said any openly political appointee with little macro-economic experience, would not sit well with financial markets that already sold off following the BJP’s election setbacks.
But Ashish Vaidya, executive director and head of trading at DBS Bank in Mumbai, said he expected India’s debt and currency markets to react positively.
“He is a bureaucrat...We expect the RBI to take a pragmatic approach under him, be pro-growth and change its stance going ahead given that inflation has come off sharply,” he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Reuters partner ANI that the government acknowledged the bank’s independence.
“Government will fully support the RBI and coordinate with it in areas where consultations of government are required to make sure India’s economy benefits from both government policy decisions and areas which fall within domain of the RBI,” ANI tweeted, quoting Jaitley.

SWIFT APPOINTMENT
Pronab Sen, India’s former chief statistician, said he was surprised by the speed of Das’s appointment.
“If you have a situation where a position as important as the governor of the RBI is filled within 24 hours of the resignation of the incumbent, that will raise eyebrows,” Sen told Reuters.
“People are going to say, clearly this guy had already been identified. And, the situation was created where Urjit Patel had to quit.”
Das — widely seen as a contender for the top RBI job after Raghuram Rajan’s term ended in 2016 — did not answer calls from Reuters to his mobile phone.
RBI officials who have worked with him closely said Das was likely to be more inclusive in the decision-making process than Patel.
“He has a balanced approach and is good at consensus building,” said a former deputy governor. .”..We have had our fair share of differences. But he has always been solution-centric rather than festering on those differences.”
Das worked in the finance ministry under both Modi’s government and the previous coalition led by the main opposition Congress party and was also involved in drafting the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code aimed at protecting small investors.
He came under fire for his pro-demonetization stance and was the most vocal bureaucrat at the time Modi withdrew the high-value bank notes to fight tax evasion.
Das last year criticized the methodology of global rating agencies and sought a sovereign rating upgrade for India.