Qatar Investment Authority Backs London Stock Exchange Group Chairman

The London Stock Exchange Group chairman Donald Brydon has gained backing from a major shareholder, dampening prospects of his ousting at an investor meeting next week.

The Press Association understands that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has taken a position to support the chairman, despite accusations by activist investor the Children’s Investment Fund Management (TCI) that Mr Brydon pushed out former chief executive Xavier Rolet.

QIA believes that the LSE would not benefit from the immediate departure of Mr Brydon given that the search process for Mr Rolet’s replacement is currently under way, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

QIA, which owns more than 10% of LSE, is the second largest stakeholder behind BlackRock.

Its support makes it less likely that Mr Brydon will be forced to step down as a result of a shareholder vote during an extraordinary meeting called for December 19.

The London Stock Exchange Group, QIA and TCI declined to comment.

Similar concerns were raised by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) last week, which recommended that investors oppose the motion to oust Mr Brydon.

“Support for the removal of the chairman would equate to a strong judgement call against the board,” ISS said, adding that a simultaneous search for a chairman and CEO “would be far from ideal”.

“Keeping Donald Brydon as chairman for a limited time would provide stability and continuity and he has substantial experience hiring CEOs,” the shareholder advisory group said.

Activist investor TCI, which holds a stake of more than 5%, had been calling for Mr Rolet to stay on until 2021 before the chief executive stepped down at the end of November.

The TCI has continued to rip into Mr Brydon’s record and conduct, pushing for his immediate dismissal amid claims that he got rid of a “world class CEO without providing any good reasons”.

The LSE confirmed last week that Mr Brydon will not stand for re-election in 2019, but this stopped short of meeting the TCI’s demands for his immediate removal.

The raging controversy at the LSE has even drawn comment from the Bank of England, with Governor Mark Carney earlier this week saying he was “mystified” by the tussle.

Mr Rolet’s departure came after more than eight years in the top job, during which time the LSE has seen its stock market value soar from £800 million to nearly £14 billion.

His tenure resulted in the LSE sealing a string of acquisitions, although it was marred by the recent failed attempt at a £21 billion merger with German rival Deutsche Borse after it was blocked by the European Commission in March.