LSE legal dept reduced during takeover battle

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has completed a downsizing of its legal department, cutting the number of lawyers by almost half.

Since listing in 2000, the LSE legal team has shrunk from 14 lawyers to eight as part of a streamlining strategy. The LSE completed the cull last month.

Sources close to the LSE said the legal team was under pressure to become more cost-effective.

But LSE head of legal Catherine Johnson said the move was about making the department “stronger and more efficient”.

She said the cuts were achieved through a combination of redundancies and by not replacing people who resigned.

“It’s been a gradual downsizing over quite a long period of time,” she said. “Initially, there were three or four [departures] and there have been a couple during the past couple of months as well. We will not be downsizing any further.”

The downsizing came during a very busy period for the LSE’s legal team, which has been defending the stock exchange against takeover attempts by Macquarie Bank and Nasdaq.

The team has also dealt with competition issues before the Competition Commission arising from approaches by Euronext and Deutsche Börse. The Competition Commission recently cleared the way for the two rival exchanges to bid for the LSE, subject to a series of undertakings.