New chief executive to revamp NZX

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
BUSINESS REPORTER
Last updated 08:25 29/06/2012
Tim Bennett
TIM BENNETT: "A number of one-off factors influenced this year's result, which was set against a background of very low levels of capital raising by historic standards."

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Less than two months after taking over at NZX, new chief executive Tim Bennett has signalled the need for a culture change at the sharemarket business.

Announcing key organisational changes at the Wellington firm, Bennett admitted that relationships with customers had been poor, staff felt unappreciated and there was a need to address an existing perception of a conflict of interest in its structure.

Bennett said the opportunities available in the New Zealand capital markets, from Fonterra's trading among farmers scheme to upcoming state-asset floats, were immense, but as a company NZX needed to hire staff and add structure to the business. Interviews with former staff revealed a workforce which had felt the work was interesting and challenging, but at times unappreciated, with a lack of career development.

Describing the business structure as "entrepreneurial", Bennett said NZX was "almost too efficient" for its own good, with more resource needed to address an "unacceptably high" staff turnover.

Meanwhile, feedback from market participants showed a "consistent message" that customer relationships needed improvement. "We don't interact with them and we're not focused enough on market development," Bennett said, revealing that when he personally contacted NZX's largest listed entities to discuss an increase in listing fees, some "were absolutely delighted to hear from me".

Management changes involve hiring a chief financial officer and a head of cash markets to drive the initial public offering pipeline. A new market services team, headed by Simon Smith, will include the task of improving interaction with customers. Head of market supervision Robyn Day will lead a more "tightly focused" regulation team.

NZX, which both runs and regulates markets, has long been victim of a perception that its own commercial interests clashed with ensuring market integrity.

Bennett insisted this was merely perception, however he revealed the Financial Markets Authority's annual oversight review of NZX, to be released this morning, will signal "room for improvement" in its regulatory functions.

While Bennett did not criticise his predecessor, the overhaul casts light on former chief executive Mark Weldon, who is credited with rescuing the NZX, while also growing distant from participants of the market he oversaw. Weldon said yesterday it would be inappropriate for a former chief executive to comment, but he wished NZX "every possible success".

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Contact Hamish Rutherford
Business reporter
Email: hamish.rutherford@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @oneforthedr

- The Dominion Post

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