TMX Group Ltd. chief executive Lou Eccleston is retiring amid allegations from TMX employees that he bullied colleagues and fostered a toxic work environment, The Globe and Mail has learned, adding a new dimension to the company’s rationale for his early departure.
On Friday, TMX, which runs the Toronto Stock Exchange, announced that Mr. Eccleston, 61, is retiring early. The company had launched an investigation after allegations came to light that he sexually harassed employees when he worked at data giant Bloomberg LP in the 1990s. The allegations were published in November in an investigative story by Business Insider, which focused on presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.
TMX launched an “expedited but thorough investigation,” according to the company, and on Friday the board said that the probe “found no evidence that Mr. Eccleston engaged in sexual harassment or sexual misconduct while employed at TMX.”
Despite the results, the company said Mr. Eccleston “believes it is in the best interests of TMX Group, including its employees and stakeholders, for him to retire early.”
But two current employees and one former employee told The Globe there is more to the story. After TMX’s board hired noted Toronto employment lawyer Janice Rubin to launch a third-party investigation, approximately 20 people came forward and reported instances of bullying and toxic behaviour by Mr. Eccleston – including allegations he belittled and humiliated employees, they said.
The Globe is not identifying the sources because the employees are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Examples of Mr. Eccleston’s behaviour include screaming at employees in public and private settings, ridiculing employees while they are giving presentations in front of others and calling employees “stupid” in front of others, two sources said.
Asked about the allegations, the company said in a statement that it is “committed to creating a collegial culture and treating people with dignity and respect and encourages anyone at TMX with any sort of concerns to voice them. We take all such concerns seriously.”
“As per our company policy,” the company added, “TMX is obliged to keep any such allegations private between the employee making them and the company.” Ms. Rubin declined to comment for this story. Mr. Eccleston did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Eccleston had an employment contract with TMX that was set to expire at the end of 2020. Because he is retiring, he can collect at least $9.5-million in deferred compensation that he would not have been entitled to if he was fired with cause, according to regulatory filings.
Mr. Eccleston was paid $15.5-million in total compensation over the past three years. The next highest paid executive, chief technology and operations officer Jay Rajarathinam, was paid $5-million in total compensation over the same period.
Mr. Eccleston was recruited to lead TMX in October, 2014, and over his five-year tenure the company’s share price has more than doubled, closing at $110.60 on Friday. Mr. Eccleston had been given credit for a turnaround of the company, based in part on strong performance in its financial data group. The company adopted more stringent rules for listing cannabis companies than other exchanges, and as a result will not be hurt as badly as smaller exchanges by the bear market in that sector.
The company’s share price also benefited from broad investor demand for data companies and stock exchanges. London Stock Exchange Group PLC, which tried to acquire TMX in 2012, has seen its share price quadruple during the same period as Mr. Eccleston’s tenure.
It isn’t clear if employees had reported any bullying allegations about Mr. Eccleston to the company before the recent investigation started. However, a source said establishing the third-party probe “gave people a safe space to speak up.”
On Friday, TMX Group named chief financial officer John McKenzie as its interim CEO, and sources say the board has told senior executives the replacement search is likely to take three to six months.
The last time TMX went looking for a CEO, the company took a long time to find someone for the job. Former CEO Tom Kloet, who helped engineer the ultimately unsuccessful sale to the LSE, announced in March, 2014, that he would retire at the end of August that year, then delayed his departure by two months.
At TMX, Mr. Eccleston split his time between Toronto and New Jersey, where he lives, according to sources, who added that many weeks he was in Toronto for two to three days. As part of his compensation package, TMX paid him a “currency allowance," which amounted to $701,282 in 2018. The company also paid an additional $23,641 for tax advice.
Early in his tenure, Mr. Eccleston replaced a number of executives at TMX, including Kevan Cowan, former group head of equities, and Alain Miquelon, former head of derivatives and fixed-income markets.
Asked about succession plans, the company would only say interim CEO Mr. McKenzie “is a longtime TMX employee with a proven track record of leadership in various roles across the organization," adding that he will execute the company’s long-term strategy throughout the transitional period.
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