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Weldon to stay “meaningfully invested” in the local stock exchange operator

Thursday 6th October 2011

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Departing NZX chief executive Mark Weldon says he intends to remain “meaningfully invested” in the local stock exchange operator, of which he remains the single largest personal shareholder.

Weldon announced his departure from the company he first helmed in 2002, saying 10 years in the job was “a natural reflection point.”

While Weldon’s holding now hovers somewhere between 4% and 5% of the issued capital of the company, beneficial ownership through direct holdings and incentive scheme shares gave him 8.7% of the company at balance date in the most recent annual report, to June 2010.

While the remaining portion of his current long term incentive scheme expires in December, Weldon said this was not a significant factor in deciding to move on.

He has no concrete plans, hopes to remain in New Zealand, but said he had been approached about offshore roles “from to time”.

“I haven’t given it too much detailed thought.”

Among highlights of his decade with NZX, Weldon identified the fact that “despite all the noise about the ASX, the reality is that if you’ve been a shareholder of NZX since listing, you would be twice as well off as if you were an ASX shareholder.

“It just goes to show big isn’t always beautiful,” he told BusinessDesk.

He rated among his achievements placing NZX on a stable basis for growth in a range of new areas, including information services and agricultural derivatives trading, which he expects will have become one of the exchange’s primary revenue lines within the next decade.

“That will balance out as the traditional capital market side,” he said. “In the U.S., I’d hope they’ll look at NZX and say ‘that’s a successful, specialised commodity exchange’.”

While much had been made in the last decade of New Zealand’s potential to emulate so-called “knowledge economies”, Weldon said he liked Chicago, with its breadbasket status and strong mercantile exchange, as a good example for New Zealand.

“If you can build a bridge from capital markets to the agricultural sector, and we’re seeing that with (Fonterra’s global auction platform) globalDairyTrade and (NZX’s) dairy futures, that’s the future for New Zealand.”

He also believes the ownership of the exchange is less of an issue that it has been in the past, with NZX having broadened its revenue sources, whereas global exchanges facing “deal heat” were those which had stayed narrowly focused while watching traditional share trading activity dwindling and trading systems costs rising.

Local exchanges would remain relevant because “regulation remains local and tax remains local” while global banks and brokers made it easy for investors to place their money wherever they chose.

BusinessDesk.co.nz



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