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NZSE's new chief looks for more warriors

The Stock Exchange's new ceo Mark Weldon is looking for more firms to list and more people to invest in the markets.

Friday, June 7th 2002, 6:54AM

by Rob Hosking

A drive to attract more companies and more investors to the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSE) is promised by its new chief executive Mark Weldon.

Details of the exchange’s new strategy were to be worked out over the next three months, but Weldon, who is New Zealand born but who was recruited from McKinsey & Co in New York, says he wants the NZSE to act as a catalyst role in developing New Zealand’s equity markets.

There are two attitudinal changes Weldon is targeting; firstly amongst New Zealand companies and secondly with would-be investors.

New Zealand has fewer of its top 100 companies listed than almost any other OECD company, he says.

"There are a lot more that could potentially list. It won’t be easy but I do believe the opportunity is there."

In particular, the agricultural sector is one that has much untapped potential, he says.

The other attitudinal change he is seeking is among investors – overcoming New Zealanders’ notorious reluctance to put their money onto the sharemarket after the 1987 crash.

"I’ve been back in the country only four days and I think I’ve heard 1987 mentioned 70 times," says Weldon.

"The fact of the matter is that it wasn’t the markets that can’t be trusted - its irrational exuberance."

Weldon is broadly supportive of the regulatory changes that have already been made by the government and other bodies, he says there is not, however, a ‘wild west’ problem with New Zealand’s market rules, as is often claimed by politicians.

Weldon is less keen on the idea of a merger with the Australian Stock Exchange than previous NZSE management.

"One of the over-riding aims we will focus on over the next three moths, as we develop our strategy, is remaining – or becoming, depending on your point of view - regionally relevant," he says.

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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