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Bocker had 'gift of building industry-defining businesses': Blibros

Former Singapore Exchange (SGX) chief executive Magnus Böcker was a friend, leader and father, his family's investment firm said in a statement on Friday in response to Mr Böcker's death.

FORMER Singapore Exchange (SGX) chief executive Magnus Böcker was a friend, leader and father, his family's investment firm said in a statement on Friday in response to Mr Böcker's death.

"Our executive chairman Magnus Böcker passed away earlier this week on July 26 after a valiant battle against cancer," the firm, Blibros Capital Partners, said. "Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Magnus have lost a dear friend, an inspiring colleague and a loving father. He was an exceptionally talented leader with an entrepreneur's gift of building industry-defining businesses. Magnus leaves behind three sons, his partner, countless friends and business partners."

Mr Böcker was just over a month shy of turning 56 when he died. Blibros chief executive Jonas Lindstrom told The Business Times that he was in St Louis, Missouri, in the US, when he died. Mr Lindstrom added that Mr Böcker's family had no comment.

Mr Böcker, who was born in Sweden, made his name on the global stage as a savvy dealmaker who helped to create the Nordic exchange group OMX, then led its eventual merger with Nasdaq. After a short stint as president of Nasdaq, Mr Böcker was lured to Singapore in 2009 to take over SGX from outgoing CEO Hsieh Fu Hua.

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Mr Böcker's tenure at SGX was characterised by his drive to raise the exchange into a best-in-class platform in Asia, but also by his inability to replicate his deal-making success in Singapore.

Most notably, Mr Böcker led an attempt to merge SGX with the ASX, the Australian stock exchange, in 2010. That merger had support of management teams on both sides and the Singapore government, but eventually fell to political opposition in Australia.

SGX was later also reported to be a suitor for the London Metal Exchange in 2012, but lost out to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Mr Böcker ran SGX with his sights firmly set on the global arena. He envisioned SGX as an "Asian gateway", providing a miniature version of New York or London in this timezone. But that often involved making changes to the status quo to match global trends in the securities industry.

As the consummate engineer of markets, Mr Böcker was known for his deep knowledge of all aspects of operating an exchange. He invested heavily to upgrade SGX's trading engines and technological infrastructure, and grew the derivatives business into a significant counterweight to the securities market.

He also charged his risk and regulatory units to be early adopters of international standards following the global financial crisis, burnishing Singapore's reputation as one of the best regulated exchanges in the region.

Mr Böcker was a firm believer in corporate governance and responsible investing. Under his watch, the exchange developed guidelines for sustainability reporting, and he was the first chairman of the Diversity Action Committee, which seeks to improve board gender diversity in Singapore. After leaving the exchange, Mr Böcker took up the chairmanship of the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), a shareholder advocacy group.

But some of Mr Böcker's changes rubbed the local industry the wrong way. His courtship of algorithmic traders as a way to boost liquidity raised concerns about a level playing field in the market by remisiers.

The remisiers also mounted a long and high-profile campaign to protest Mr Böcker's decision to take away the lunch break and shift SGX towards all-day trading. Continuous all-day trading was essential, he had argued, to reduce gap risk and gave investors more hours to trade.

Mr Böcker in 2015 chose not to seek a renewal of his contract. That decision came as SGX was under fire for a number of serious trading outages.

A charismatic man with a quick wit, Mr Böcker made Singapore his home following his SGX appointment. Even after leaving the exchange, he continued to live in Singapore, where he ran his family's investment office.

Read more stories on Bocker:

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