London Stock Exchange (LSE) is one of the oldest stock exchanges in the world and can trace its history back to 1571 when the Royal Exchange was established as the City’s centre of commerce.
During the 17th century, stockbrokers were deemed too uncouth to be allowed into the Royal Exchange (itself a place for merchants to trade) which was opened by Elizabeth I of England.
They had to operate from other trading venues in the vicinity, notably Jonathan's Coffee-House. At that prominent establishment, a broker named John Castaing started listing the prices of a few commodities,
exchange rates and stocks in 1698, establishing the trading of securities in London.
In 1773, Jonathan, together with 150 other stockbrokers who had been trading in the area’s coffee houses, set up a more formal stock exchange in Sweetings Alley. This now had a set entrance fee, by which traders could enter the stock room and trade securities.
However, it wasn’t until 1801 that the modern LSE was founded. That year a group of stock exchange members raised money for the construction of a building in Capel Court in the City. The building was finished on 30 December when "The Stock Exchange" was incised on the entrance.
Members were required to register with the Exchange and the first codified rule book was introduced a decade later.
(Merchant’s Room of the Stock Exchange, 1831. Image Copyright Hulton Picture Library)
As the world’s largest financial centre, both the City and the Exchange were hit hard by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The LSE closed for five months at the start of the war and was restricted when it reopened. At the start of second world war the Exchange closed for six days and was bombed in 1940.
Stock market business boomed in the late 1950s. This spurred the LSE to look for bigger, more suitable premises. Work began on the 26-floor Stock Exchange Tower in 1967 and Queen Elizabeth II opened the building in 1972.
The following year, the LSE allowed women and foreign-born traders on to the trading floor. It also merged with 11 British and Irish regional exchanges including the Scottish Stock Exchange
Through many ups and downs the LSE finally arrived at the 1980s which brought arguably the biggest shake-up in its history.
Known as ‘Big Bang’, the deregulation of the financia markets in the UK took place in 1986.
Minimum commissions were abolished, member firms were allowed to operate as brokers and market makers and trading changed from an open outcry to electronic.
In 2001, the LSE floated as a public company, led by its then chief executive Clara Furse.
In 2007, London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) was created when LSE merged with Milan Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana, creating Europe’s most diversified Exchange Group.
In 2010, LSEG launched its charitable Foundation, which focuses on supporting selected initiatives in the communities in which it operates.
In 2017, the European commission blocked the LSE’s attempted friendly merger with Deutsche Börse.
In 2018, in total, over £1.39 trillion was traded on London Stock Exchange.
Of all the world’s stock exchanges, the LSE can consider itself to be the most international with 3,000 companies from 70 countries listed for trading. Last year, 21 international companies listed in London, almost double the total for all other European exchanges combined.
David Schwimmer (CEO)
Mr Schwimmer serves as CEO at LSE since April 2018. Mr Schwimmer, joined LSEG after a twenty year career at Goldman Sachs. Most recently, he was Global Head of Market Structure and Global Head of Metals and Mining in Investment Banking. He began his career at Goldman Sachs in the Financial Institutions Group, focusing on Market Structure, Brokerage and Trading.
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