Tom Healy's exit from the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) leaves questions about the future of the bourse at a critical point in its evolution. Mr Healy, 59, announced his retirement as the chief executive yesterday. He held the same title at the Irish Stock Exchange for 20 years before he was asked to head the ADX in September 2007. He said he would stay on for several months to smoothe the transition but the ADX has not yet named his successor. In slightly more than two years, Mr Healy worked to promote the ADX around the world, attending conferences and strengthening ties with other markets such as the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
He opened the bourse to bigger volumes by bringing in global powerhouses such as Deutsche Bank, Citibank and HSBC to serve in custodial roles for institutional investors. But while the exchange has a network of more than 100 brokers, which is considerably more than NASDAQ Dubai, it has made little progress in introducing new products for them. Mr Healy announced plans to introduce Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and derivatives but neither has been completed.
His replacement will also face a major decision in whether to merge the ADX with its northern neighbour, the Dubai Financial Market. Ali Khan, the managing director of the Dubai investment bank Arqaam Capital, is among those who thinks a merger makes sense. It would cease investors "thinking of one bourse versus another", Mr Khan said. Mohammed Ali Yassin, the head of the Abu Dhabi brokerage Shuaa Securities, agreed, noting that a combined exchange would be the second-largest bourse in the GCC, behind Saudi Arabia.
But such changes do not happen overnight, as Mr Healy well knows. He helped the exchange make some big strides in recent years. It is up to the next chief to keep up the momentum. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org