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Clara Furse: Great candidate, shame about the job

"The boys have made a mess of it," mused Brian Winterflood, chairman of Winterflood Securities, on hearing the news of the appointment of Clara Furse as the first woman chief executive in the 228-year history of the London Stock Exchange, "so why not let the girls have a go?"

Furse has to revitalize a business that bears the scars of technology blunders and has faced constant criticism over its lack of a clear strategy. A merger plan with Deutsche Börse fell apart, and Sweden's OM Group tried and failed in a takeover bid. Furse's three predecessors were either fired or resigned in controversial circumstances. Can she do any better?

Roy Leighton, her former chairman at Credit Lyonnais Rous, the London derivatives arm of the French bank, thinks she can. Furse is "an excellent candidate for a very difficult job," he says. "She is very internationally-minded and she has all the right attributes in terms of IT. While she was here she led the installation of some excellent new systems that will be her legacy." Clearly, the LSE was anxious to get someone who was more than just PC-literate.

As a derivatives expert, she is seen as an outsider by stockmarket dinosaurs but one who might, therefore, see the future more clearly.

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