22 APRIL 2000, Page 27

Sell at best

THOSE heated swimming-pools in stock- brokers' gardens all along the North Downs are (so its historian, Margaret Reid, said) the most visible legacy of Big Bang. It just goes to show that, however badly they advise their customers, when it comes to selling their own businesses they get top dollar. So I cannot think that they will let the London Stock Exchange settle for the sticky end of a fudged merger with the Deutsche BOrse in Frankfurt, which is what its management now seems to want. The next chairman, who must soon be chosen, will be expected to maximise value. What about a bid from the Big Board in New York, which could soon offer shares of its own? Or a management buy-in from Liffe, the financial futures exchange? For a start, the new chairman should develop the exchange's island site and pull down its ill- erected tower.