Bullish LSE picks Colombo for Board meeting today

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 00:45 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The world famous London Stock Exchange Group (LSE), whose origins could be traced back to 300 years, will hold its first-ever Board of Directors meeting in Colombo today.

LSE Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet confirmed to the Daily FT yesterday that though the organisation has held Board meetings outside London, it will be the first-ever in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The development symbolises its respect for and faith in post-war Sri Lanka.

Rolet said LSE Group Chairman Chris Gibson Smith and 11 others including him were in town to attend the Board meeting in Colombo. He said that of late, Board meetings had been bit regular, though traditionally they have been meeting once in two months.

LSE two years ago made a strategic investment by acquiring the world-renowned technology services firm and trading platform solutions specialist MillenniumIT (MIT), after which both have grown considerably. MIT has over a decade of experience in building technology solutions for capital markets.

The LSE Board comprises Chris Gibson Smith (Chairman), P. Scaroni, Robert Webb, Paul Heiden, Janet Cohen, Andrea Munarim, Sergio Ermotti, Gay Evans, Massimo Tononi and Xavier Rolet (CEO), Doug Webb and R. Jeusalmi.

The Board meeting also coincides with LSE expanding MIT operations. This week the foundation stone for a new 40,000 square feet facility within MIT’s 16-acre campus in Malabe will be laid.

When LSE took over MIT it had a staff of 400 mainly software engineers and financial markets specialists, but today it its headcount has grown to 700, confirming the business base has been growing.

“We have been quite happy with the progress of MIT since the takeover. Its business is growing and apart from constantly hiring additional skilled staff, we need more space,” Rolet added.

The new complex will be completed by late this year and in tandem with expanding business, the headcount will be increased as well. LSE is working on several new projects in addition to pitching for new ones, necessitating an expansion in the solutions backend in Sri Lanka. MIT is the service provider for LSE, the most international of all the world’s stock exchanges.

Rolet emphasised that Sri Lanka had excellent talent for the country to considerably expand in the highly value-added software solutions market especially in the financial services and accounting areas, rather than the mass-market voice-based BPO business.

“If Sri Lanka differentiates and specialises itself from the rest, then the scope for the country to boost employment and earnings from the software industry is greater,” the LSE CEO added. He also said that greater economic expansion as well as growth in the ICT industry would reverse the brain drain in addition to nurturing more entrepreneurs in the IT industry.

The LSE Chief was also upbeat on post-war Sri Lanka’s prospects with regard to tourism. Like some of the Directors, Rolet too had a bit of time to do some sightseeing before being engrossed with serious Board matters.

Rolet, who briefly toured the north and east over the weekend in connection with LSE Foundation and MIT’s corporate social responsibility project, said he was highly overwhelmed by the former conflict zone’s attractiveness as an eco-tourism destination.

“Tourism in Sri Lanka holds great promise, provided sustainability issues are addressed along with aggressive marketing,” opined the LSE CEO.