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New company chairman an old hand at mergers Add to ...

The ink had not yet dried on merger the Toronto and Montreal exchanges in 2008 when the chairman of the new company suggested there were more deals to be done.

"We still need to look outside for future growth," TMX Group chairman Wayne Fox told investors that summer. On Wednesday, that prediction came true with the TMX's most transformative deal yet.

The company's $7-billion deal with London Stock Exchange Group PLC is one that both sides are insisting is a carefully-crafted merger of equals, with Canada and the U.K. sharing equal responsibilities. And Mr. Fox, a former top executive at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce who left in 2005 after the bank took a multibillion-dollar hit on an Enron-related lawsuit, is to assume one of the most important roles in the new company - the chairman's seat.

"We have a shared vision for a new kind of diversified exchange business," Mr. Fox said Tuesday at a press conference to discuss the deal. "As in any merger of equals, our respective companies bring strengths to the new enterprise including two very strong management teams, and will create a global exchange powerhouse."

It is a role some analysts and observers view skeptically, seeing Mr. Fox's title more as a figurehead atop the new exchange. Xavier Rolet, the head of the London Stock Exchange, has been named CEO and will be in charge of daily operations.

But Mr. Fox will likely play a key role in the integration of both operations, given his past experience with combining the Montreal Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange. That made-in-Canada deal was done under similar circumstances to this week's international merger: Faced with intensifying competition from global competitors and upstart rivals, stock exchanges are looking for ways to get bigger and command a larger share of the markets.

Mr. Fox served as chief risk officer for CIBC until 2005, when the bank ushered in sweeping management changes following settlements with regulators and shareholders over its involvement with Enron Inc. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that CIBC, through a series of deals, enabled the energy trader to boost earnings through improper accounting.

Prior to his departure, Mr. Fox held several key positions at CIBC over his 33 years at the bank. He served as president of CIBC Wood Gundy before becoming vice-chairman and chief risk officer.

Mr. Fox is a veteran of the Toronto exchange. He served as a director from 1997 to 2002, and has been chairman since late 2002, when the exchange went public. He does not sit on any other corporate boards.

During his time as chairman, proponents of Mr. Fox say he set the stage for expansion at TMX Group. However, his critics contend his era as chairman is one of eroding global clout for Canada's biggest exchange. That decline may have necessitated the merger with the LSE.

 

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