July 17, 2017 / 3:16 PM / 5 months ago

Resolving regulatory probe of NSE is top priority: CEO

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The new chief executive of India’s embattled National Stock Exchange (NSE) said on Monday his immediate priority was to resolve a regulatory investigation facing the country’s largest bourse and improve relations with stakeholders.

A man walks past the NSE (National Stock Exchange) building in Mumbai, India July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Vikram Limaye took over the NSE on Monday, with the exchange facing a probe from market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) about whether company employees provided unfair access to co-location servers to select brokers.

Co-location servers are placed at the site of exchanges to speed up algorithmic trading.

The probe has delayed a much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of the NSE that bankers had said could raise up to $1 billion.

Limaye, a 50-year-old finance industry veteran who was previously CEO of infrastructure lender IDFC Ltd, also has to face regulatory scrutiny after NSE suffered a technological glitch that caused widespread disruptions in trading last week.

“The immediate priorities for me are to resolve the co-location issue with SEBI,” Limaye told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

“Then, we need to obviously improve various stakeholder relationships whether it’s with SEBI, government, clients, media, employees,” he added.

Limaye said the NSE was in talks with SEBI to settle the issue of unfair access to brokers.

“That we believe will be the fastest way to resolve this,” Limaye said. “We will have to file an official application for consent in order to start that process.”

Sources told Reuters last month that the NSE was in talks with the market regulator to settle the issue, in an effort to move ahead with its listing, and accept a penalty. SEBI has not said whether it would be open to a settlement.

Limaye said he had “no visibility” on when the exchange could go public, as the regulatory probe had to be resolved first.

He said he would also focus on better communication to fix the bourse’s image.

“Unfortunately, what we haven’t done a good job (at), historically, is communicating,” he said. “So, I firmly believe even the co-location issue could have been managed a lot better.”

A number of high-profile executives have left the NSE, including co-founders and former CEOs Chitra Ramkrishna and Ravi Narain.

Limaye is the first chief executive to come from outside the exchange’s founding team since it was set up in 1992.

Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Rafael Nam and Mark Potter

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