First female CEO for Johannesburg Stock Exchange

Nicky Newton-King, the current deputy chief executive of JSE Limited, will assume the position of chief executive at the end of this year, becoming the first woman to run this 123-year-old institution.

Russell Loubser, the long-standing chief executive of the JSE, made the unexpected announcement yesterday with the release of the financial 2010 results, which showed a marginal decline in headline earnings a share to R4.36 from R4.56 in the year to December 2009.

Loubser, who has been in the position for 15 years, will remain at the helm of the JSE until the end of the current financial year in December. Newton-King, who has been his deputy for eight years, will join the ranks of female chief executives. Others include Maria Ramos at Absa, Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American and Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita at ArcelorMittal South Africa.

Asked why the board made the announcement some nine months ahead of the hand-over, Loubser – who said he would not be retiring from business at the end of the year – referred to next month’s annual general meeting (AGM), adding: “We wanted to demonstrate that we have thought very carefully about the matter.” With Newton-King at the helm, the investment community could be confident that the JSE had a chief executive for another 15 years.

The board also decided to reduce the number of executive directors to three, and to that end, Leanne Parsons and John Burke will stand down at next month’s AGM.

Two other changes to the board are the resignation of non-executive directors Gloria Serobe and Wendy Luhabe. Last year JSE shareholders raised concerns about Serobe’s role as a non-executive director. Last year’s annual report revealed that Serobe, who has been on the board for 10 years, was absent for many board meetings.

Turning to the results, group revenue increased 9 percent to R1.2 billion from R1.1bn with increasing trading volumes lifting equities trading revenue by 5 percent. The JSE’s information products sales division also made a useful contribution with revenue up by 7 percent to R117 million. Revenue from the issuer services division increased to R86m from R79m. Trading in both currency and equity derivatives was flat, but the commodities derivatives market performed well.

Operating costs increased by 8 percent to R879m, largely due to the costs related to major information technology projects, which required the employment of an additional 20 people. Net interest income fell 16 percent.

Referring to the outlook for 2011, Loubser said the first two months had been busier than the comparative period in 2010. He said recent global events, such as the disruptions in north Africa and the earthquake in Japan, were like “black swans, which meant bad news”.

He said while revenue projections were not possible, markets that offered strong regulation, solid infrastructure and thriving institutions, such as the JSE, “will be better positioned to attract sustainable capital flows”. The stock fell 6.04 percent to R70 yesterday.

Source – Independent Online – Ann Crotty – 16 Mar 2011