London Metal Exchange boss steps down after divisive year

Garry Jones, the London Metal Exchange (LME) chief executive for the last three years, has left one of the world's largest and oldest metals markets, becoming the second senior manager to step down in two months.

The move, announced by LME’s parent company Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX), follows a difficult year that saw declining volumes, a fraud case come to light and the departure of the exchange’s chief operating officer in December.

Garry Jones is the second senior manager to step down in two months.

HKEX did not say why Jones was leaving, referring to his departure as “retiring.” What it did note was that while the exchange searches for a successor, Matthew Chamberlain, the LME's chief operating officer, will step in as interim chief executive with immediate effect.

Jones, who was appointed to head the LME in August 2013, tried making it a more commercial business by — among other measures — increasing fees, which created tensions with brokers and traders. The 34% charge hike at the start of 2015 drove several consumers and producers to leave the LME, which hurt its volumes.

Last year, the exchange cut some fees in an effort to prevent more participants from leaving, particularly after former LME CEO Martin Abbott began forming a group that aimed at setting up an alternative metals-trading platform.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing acquired the LME in 2012 for $1.4bn. Before that, the members of the bourse were its owners and the business strategy was to benefit them, rather than maximize profits.