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Bocker 'was a driving force for change': SGX

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) described former chief executive Magnus Böcker as a "driving force for change", and offered condolences on his recent death.

THE Singapore Exchange (SGX) described former chief executive Magnus Böcker as a "driving force for change", and offered condolences on his recent death.

"We would like to express our deepest condolences on the passing of Magnus Böcker," SGX said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult period. Magnus led SGX from 2009 to 2015 and was a driving force for change. Everyone who had interacted and worked side-by-side with him has held him in great regard. We will remember him for his infectious optimism, fresh insights, and energetic approach to just about anything, from music to cars to the exchange business and his belief in SGX. Magnus will be greatly missed."

Mr Böcker died in St Louis, Missouri, in the United States on Wednesday after succumbing to cancer. He was just over a month shy of turning 56.

Born in Sweden, he made his name on the global stage as a savvy deal-maker 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 had bold ambitions for SGX, and sought to elevate it into a best-in-class platform in Asia. He envisioned the exchange as an "Asian gateway", offering the denizens of the world's capital markets a miniature version of New York or London in the Asian timezone.

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 the success that he had in forging mergers and acquisitions in Scandinavia eluded him 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 withered under political opposition in Australia.

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

Mr Böcker's quest to transform the market also sometimes put him at odds with segments of the local securities industry.

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 came 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, Blibros Capital Partners.

In a statement on Friday, Blibros described Mr Böcker as a friend, leader and father. "Our executive chairman Magnus Böcker passed away earlier this week on July 26 after a valiant battle against cancer," Blibros 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."

Blibros chief executive Jonas Lindström told The Business Times that Mr Böcker's family had no comment. No information about services has been announced yet.

Read more stories on Bocker:

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