A Square Mile heavy-hitter was today helicoptered in to mediate secret talks in the hope of pacifying a boardroom row at the owner of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
Former HSBC deputy chairman Sir Simon Robertson met the activist fund manager Sir Christopher Hohn, who is demanding ousted LSE chief exec Xavier Rolet is reinstated.
Hohn, who runs the Children's Investment Fund Management (TCI) – LSE's fourth largest shareholder – also wants to see LSE chair Donald Brydon removed from his position.
Robertson was drafted in to defuse the situation by Brydon and other non-executive directors.
The talks are a final attempt by Hohn to avert a shareholder meeting before Christmas. The row was sparked by TCI requisitioning an extraordinary general meeting earlier this month. Hohn demanded to know the reasons for Rolet's resignation.
Law firm Schillings has been drafted in to represent the board in preparation for such a meeting.
The LSE board has until Thursday to publish a circular within that it will explain the reasons for Rolet's retirement last month.
While the talks did not break the deadlock, Sky News – which first revealed details of the talks – reported details of them were relayed back to senior Bank of England representatives and LSE non-execs.
Over the weekend, it was reported TCI was confident of securing sufficient shareholder support to reverse Rolet's departure and force Brydon out. However, separate reports, quoting senior City insiders, suggest Hohn's confidence is ill-placed.
Meanwhile, the LSE nominations committee is facing a race against time to find a replacement for Rolet. It is expected that the outgoing chief exec will quicken his departure if TCI fails in its attempt to force a U-turn on Thursday.
The Financial Times reported last week that LSE finance chief David Warren has been teed out as Rolet's interim replacement if the Frenchman's departure is expedited.
Representatives from the LSE and TCI declined to comment.