Q&A with Bente Landsnes, President & CEO, Oslo Børs

By: The WFE Team Nov 2016

Bente Landsnes sets out her hopes for the future, following the Brexit-themed panel session at the 56th WFE General Assembly & Annual Meeting.

Please give us an overview of Oslo Børs and its operations.

Oslo Børs has a history of almost 200 years as a fully regulated exchange and offers all the benefits one would expect from an internationally recognised marketplace: access to international investment banks, brokerage firms and a highly competent research community, as well as efficient trading and market surveillance systems. In addition, the Oslo market has in recent years proven itself as one of the most efficient markets in Europe when it comes to raising equity and debt capital for companies.

Many of those who come to Oslo Børs are attracted by our strong concentration in the energy, seafood and shipping sectors. We are the preferred listing venue for numerous world-class oil & gas and offshore companies, and for some of the largest shipping companies in the world. Oslo Børs is also the world’s largest and most important financial marketplace for the seafood sector.

At Oslo Børs you can trade bonds, derivatives, equities and other equity instruments on one or more of our marketplaces, including Oslo Børs, Oslo Axess, Nordic ABM, Oslo Connect or Merkur Market.

Oslo Børs and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) have signed a strategic partnership agreement, meaning that the two exchanges collaborate on market and product development across equities, fixed income and derivatives markets.

You were a panellist at the WFE General Assembly & Annual Meeting earlier this month, on a panel discussing the possible implications of Brexit. Can you outline your viewpoint on the topic?

We have to respect the fact that the UK’s citizens have voted to leave the EU, to end the relationship that they currently have. There is growing discontent with aspects of the EU’s policies, as we continue to see traces of the financial crisis in addition to sizeable challenges with immigration. This does not only apply to the UK, but to many countries in Europe. There is a great deal of focus on what people are not satisfied with, but much less on what people are satisfied with. What is important now is that, instead of criticising each other, we ensure we are in a position to change course so that being a member of the EU is seen as desirable and not as a threat. If the EU and the UK look 5-10 years into the future, it seems possible that the picture they see is the same.

A big collision between the EU and the UK could damage all of Europe, could create great turmoil, and could reduce the level of investment in Norwegian business and industry and so lead to fewer jobs. A divided financial sector subject to different regulatory regimes and with strong competition between the EU and the UK could lead to less investment across the entire region. I hope both the EU and the UK realise the responsibility they have in terms of growth in the European region as a whole and can agree on a picture of the future in which they can both find a role.

Looking to the future, what’s your vision for the exchange and its business?

Europe needs growth, and I am a strong supporter of the Capital Markets Union. Local stock exchanges and investment firms are extremely important if we are to enable small businesses to access the risk capital markets, to professionalise, and to secure risk capital financing from small and large investors. Local stock exchanges can contribute by raising visibility and providing investor protection. It is also important for the authorities to monitor the general conditions that contribute to local investors choosing to invest in local businesses. Stock exchanges today need, as they always have, to continuously adapt to new realities, to develop their marketplaces and their use of technology, and to ensure that becoming involved in the financial markets is as easy and efficient as possible for both issuers and investors. In many cases we are seeing very successful collaboration projects between exchanges.

Confidence in the market is a hygiene factor, but when that confidence weakens, this can often damage the entire market in which an exchange operates. We have unfortunately seen some examples of exchanges lowering their requirements in order to compete. In my opinion, stock exchanges must never compromise as they seek to develop their activities.