The London Stock Exchange has made good on its promise to replace Don Cruickshank in the chair with a low profile appointment. Dr Chris Gibson-Smith, currently chairman of National Air Traffic Services (NATS), was today named as chairman.
Gibson-Smith arrives in one of the least enviable jobs in Britain from an equally grim task at NATS, which was bedevilled for years by the shortcoming of its new air traffic control system and the consequent complication of plans to privatise it. But most of his corporate life was spent at BP. Gibson-Smith is also a non-executive director of Lloyds TSB Group plc and British Land plc.
“Chris Gibson-Smith brings real depth of very relevant experience on an international stage,” says Don Cruickshank. “His insights and leadership skills will be invaluable to the Exchange. He is extremely well qualified to lead the Board, and to support the executive team led by Chief Executive Clara Furse.”
Gibson-Smith will join the Exchange Board from 1 May and will succeed the current Chairman, Don Cruickshank, when his term of office concludes at the end of the Exchange’s Annual General Meeting in July.
Welcoming the appointment, CEO Clara Furse added: “I am delighted to welcome Chris Gibson-Smith to the Exchange. His international commercial experience and strategic acumen will help us to strengthen our position as the world’s most global exchange business. I am very much looking forward to working with him.”
The first strategic test awaiting Gibson-Smith is to decide whether or not the London Stock Exchange has an independent future. If not, he then has to decide whether he prefers Euronext or Deutsche Borse. Judging by his initial remarks, Gibson-Smith obviously thinks independence is still an option. “I am delighted to be joining the Exchange at a time when it has transformed itself into a successful company in increasingly competitive markets,” he says. “The quality of its markets is internationally recognised. I look forward to working with Clara and her team to help them to realise the tremendous potential of the business in the United Kingdom, in Europe and worldwide.”
At BP, Gibson-Smith was Group Managing Director from 1997 – one of five Group Managing Directors reporting to the Chief Executive, Sir John Browne. Reporting to him were three regional directors, covering Asia and Africa. He was responsible for seven functional teams including: Technology (Group Technology, Engineering and Operating Strategies. Capital budget 8 – 10 billion per annum); IT (global programmes and contracts, 1.5 billion per annum revenue and capital spend); and Global Government Relations, HR and Public Affairs. His early career included being Chief Operating Officer of BP Chemicals (7 billion revenues) and CEO of BP Exploration Europe.
He was educated at Durham University ( BSc Geology), Newcastle University (PhD Geochemistry) and Stanford Business School (MS Business Science).
Chris Gibson-Smith (57) is a Trustee of both the Institute for Public Policy Research, and the arts charity Arts and Business. His hobbies include skiing, golf, music and the arts. He is married with two children.