Competition between the bourses is certainly bound to hot up, now that Madhu Kannan has been appointed CEO of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). Mr Kannan, who was formerly a vice-president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is already shaking things up at the staid 135-year old bourse while keeping a low public profile. On his very first day, he startled the BSE’s tight security establishment by turning up at work at 6.30am. He was allowed to enter, with profuse apologies, only after someone recognised him and informed the security that he was their new CEO. The cleaning staff was the next to be startled and then there was a flurry over trivial but important things like organising a cup of tea. Sources say that Mr Kannan bowled them over by sharing their tea; now they have got used to his New York work hours and switch on the lights and air-conditioning before he arrives. Those who want time with the boss are also realising the merits of arriving early and Mr Kannan has apparently been scheduling meetings with senior executives as early as 7.30am.
On another front, he is tapping his global network to bring in key support. The BSE has already appointed a New York-based boutique advisory firm, Galileo Global Advisors, headed by two of his former NYSE bosses -- Georges Ugeux and Jim Saphiro.
Madhu Kannan has no option but to be a man in a hurry. Since the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced cross-margins, trading volumes are steadily shifting to the National Stock Exchange; he has to work hard to hang on to the market share and launch new products to pull back trading volumes. He also has to worry about MCX-SX, which has applied for SEBI clearance and is waiting in the wings to grab market share.