June 22, 2020 / 9:30 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 2-London Stock Exchange's Rathi to head UK financial watchdog

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By Huw Jones

LONDON, June 22 (Reuters) - Nikhil Rathi, head of the London Stock Exchange's UK division, has been appointed chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Britain's finance ministry said on Monday.

Rathi, a former finance ministry official, will play a key role in helping Britain's financial sector to navigate its departure from the European Union, its biggest customer.

"In the years ahead, we will create together an even more diverse organisation, supporting the recovery with a special focus on vulnerable consumers, embracing new technology, playing our part in tackling climate change, enforcing high standards and ensuring the UK is a thought leader in international regulatory discussions," Rathi said in a ministry statement.

The FCA has been led on an interim basis by Christopher Woolard since March, when Andrew Bailey left to become governor of the Bank of England.

"I am confident that Nikhil will bring the ambitious vision and leadership this organisation demands," British finance minister Rishi Sunak said.

Before joining the LSE, Rathi was director of the ministry's financial services group, leading work on EU and international financial services at a time of intense rulemaking in the aftermath of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

"The good news is that he is someone that knows the private and public sector," said Christopher Bates, a financial services lawyer at Clifford Chance. "Clearly he starts with a lot in the in-box, with Brexit, and the reviews into Woodford and London Capital & Finance (LCF)."

The FCA is likely to be criticised over how it handled the now closed flagship fund run by then star stockpicker Neil Woodford, and the collapse of investment firm LCF.

Rathi, 40, has been appointed by the FCA for a five-year term and is expected to start on October 1, with an annual salary of 455,000 pounds ($564,000).

He will not be involved in supervisory or enforcement decisions relating to the LSE until 22 June, 2021. ($1 = 0.8066 pounds) (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Marc Jones, David Goodman and David Clarke)

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