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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 18:34 GMT
UK stock exchange defends its boss
London Stock Exchange chief executive Clara Furse
Clara Furse has been in charge for two years
The London Stock Exchange has taken the unprecedented step of publishing a public statement to defend the reputation of its chief executive, Clara Furse.

The Exchange, under Clara Furse's leadership, is light years ahead of where it was just a few years ago

Don Cruickshank, London Stock Exchange chairman
The Exchange described the comments, published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, as "outrageous, totally unfounded and offensive".

Ms Furse has apparently become the subject of e-mails in the City which call her character into question.

Clara Furse became the first female boss at the Exchange when she took over in January 2001.

The Exchange said the Mail's article, together with other market rumours, appear to be designed to undermine its business and reputation.

Chairman's defence

"Any attempts to disseminate such statements will be pursued with the utmost vigour, including legal action," the statement said.

And the Exchange's chairman, Don Cruickshank, leapt to Ms Furse's defence.

"The Exchange, under Clara Furse's leadership, is light years ahead of where it was just a few years ago," he said.

The Exchange has also said it is keeping the Financial Services Authority abreast of the situation.

Losing out to Euronext

Ms Furse took over at the London Stock Exchange after a period of four months in which it was leaderless.

Her predecessor, Gavin Casey, had resigned following shareholder anger at the Exchange's performance.

The company had been forced to ditch a planned merger with Frankfurt's Deutsche Boerse in order to fight off a hostile takeover attempt from Sweden's OM Group.

Ms Furse oversaw the Exchange's own flotation, in summer 2001, but was criticised for losing a takeover battle for London derivatives exchange Liffe to pan-European rival Euronext.

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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"Sexism in the city"
See also:

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