DIFX appoints Per E. Larsson as new Chief Executive to lead next phase of growth

The Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) today announced the appointment of  Per E. Larsson, former head of the Sweden-based OM Group (now OMX and owner of several Nordic Exchanges), as the next Chief Executive of the exchange. He will take up his post in early July 2006.

Mr Larsson will succeed Steffen Schubert, who will step down in June 2006 as scheduled at the end of his contract after becoming the DIFX's first Chief Executive in February 2004.  

As President and Chief Executive of The OM Group from 1996 to 2003, Mr Larsson led the OM Group through a period of rapid expansion and technological development which culminated in a highly audacious bid for the London Stock Exchange in 2000. He also built strong links with other European exchanges and presided over the supply of OM exchange technology to no fewer than 20 other exchanges worldwide. In his 18-year career at OM, Mr Larsson served earlier as Chief Operating Officer of the OM Group and as President of OM Stockholm, its derivatives arm.

Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Director General of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, which is the DIFX's sole shareholder, commented: "I am delighted that Per will be joining the exchange. The DIFX has taken great strides since it opened in September last year, bringing on 10 Member banks and many equity and bond issues. In the coming months and beyond, the DIFX will build on this excellent beginning with the ultimate aim of establishing itself as the leading financial exchange between Western Europe and East Asia, with similar stature to the great international exchanges in New York, London and Hong Kong."

Henry Azzam, Chairman of the DIFX, said: "Per's track record at the helm of a major stock exchange and exchange technology company, and his proven ability to deliver success in the fast-moving environment of financial services, will be invaluable to the DIFX as it moves into its next highly active phase of growth. His experience of cross-border financial activities will also be a huge asset."

Mr Larsson said: “I am delighted to accept this extraordinary opportunity and exciting challenge. The DIFX is a unique venture with unlimited potential, serving the region between Western Europe and East Asia. The DIFX has in a very short time frame established a strong base for growth. Initially my main focus will be to attract many more significant equity listings from companies based across its region, including substantial initial public offerings and Islamic products.

"I also expect it to attract more bond listings and move into other product areas such as exchange-traded funds, real estate investment trusts and derivatives. Some of these product types will be new to the Middle East, underlining the DIFX's innovative and dynamic character. The DIFX also expects to welcome many more international and regional banks as Members, stimulating liquidity."

Since stepping down from OM in 2003, Mr Larsson has been active on the Boards of a number of companies. He is Chairman of Outsourced Supply Management AB, Chairman of the label specialist Nilorn AB, a Director of ORC Software AB and a Director of the biotechnology company Appeartex AB. He is also the Acting Regional Director, Northern Europe, of the communications management group Observer AB.

Mr Schubert said: "It has been a privilege to serve for over two years as the DIFX's Chief Executive during its preparation phase, its launch last September and its immediate post-launch period. It is clear that the DIFX has a bright future."

After stepping down in June, Mr Schubert will pursue opportunities in the private sector in the region.  

Dr Azzam said: "Steffen's achievement as Chief Executive has been immense. Over a remarkably short period he and his team have led the development of the exchange from being no more than a concept to being a fully functioning, world-class organization with first class technological and regulatory infrastructure, combined with great commercial appeal to its users. This was an extraordinarily complex task."

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