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Théodore makes his mark

It was billed as a love story. After a protracted period of will-they-won't-they, London Clearing House and Clearnet agreed to wed. But as with any powerful European marriage, the merger deal says a great deal about the proud parents - especially Euronext, which controls Clearnet. Has Euronext CEO Jean-François Théodore made himself the most influential man in European securities trading?

Jean-François Théodore, CEO of Euronext: possibly the most influential man in European securities trading

THE OCCASION WAS the announcement of the merger of the London Clearing House and Clearnet in London in late June. "After a number of years of dating one another, we are now announcing our engagement, with the wedding well in sight," enthused David Hardy, CEO of LCH and now CEO of LCH.Clearnet,

Also speaking was Jean-François Théodore, CEO of Euronext, who declared himself honoured to be there. "I think we were born to be engaged," he quipped, much to the amusement of the audience.

The two bodies certainly took their time deciding how to tie the knot - they first announced their intention to merge in spring 2000, leaving brokers, exchanges, regulators and other clearing houses puzzling for years over whether to bother buying a hat for the big day.

The result is a complicated transaction with a simple aim - to save money for exchange users by creating an efficient international central counterparty for Europe. In the process, Euronext appears in the short term to have given up a slice of power in the notoriously fragmented pan-European securities infrastructure.

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