In an era of global capital markets, there can be few better suited to running a stock exchange than Clara Furse. Born in Canada to Dutch parents, schooled in Colombia, Denmark and England, and multilingual, the CEO of the London Stock Exchange (L.S.E.) has always had a worldly outlook.
And it's coming in handy at the L.S.E. New York's exchanges may dominate U.S. equities, but with Furse, 49, at its head, the L.S.E. has set its sights much further afield. The first female boss in the London bourse's 200-year history has made the L.S.E. the destination of choice for international firms eager to raise cash: 91 overseas companies listed last yearpocketing almost $20 billion in the processmore than four times the number that listed in New York.
That has unsettled rival exchanges. New York Stock Exchange chief John Thain has questioned the standards of L.S.E.'s Alternative Investment Market, a junior bourse for small firms. Instead of criticizing, NASDAQ tried to buy its way in; as trading on the L.S.E. topped record levels, the U.S. operator last November offered $5.3 billion in a hostile takeover bid. Furse swatted it away after resisting earlier approaches from European exchanges and Australian bank Macquarie. Even for the internationally minded Furse, some territories are off limits.
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