MF Global throws skipper overboard

Well it took six weeks for the coup to be completed, but MF Global finally ditched its' CEO today. Back in mid September, I wrote here about their Global COO having been jettisoned and doubting it would be enough to save Kevin Davis his job.

Bernard Dan, who led the Chicago Board of Trade for five years replaces Kevin. He joined MF Global in June as chief operating officer for North America and was promoted to global chief operating last month in place of Chris Smith before rounding off with the top job within two months.

Kevin has to be given enormous credit for building MF up from relatively nothing to a global player, ignoring the many doubters and critics along the way. He made mistakes including his late conversion to electronic broking and passing on the opportunity to pick up Instinet from Reuters on the cheap, which has since spawned Chi-X.

He was an exuberant character but ruthless with it and could be quick to judge - his dreadful handling of the hikes in margins on CFDs following the unauthorised trader loss in February was a case in point. He was a canny deal maker and acquired both Refco and GNI relatively cheaply, albeit the former proved to be his downfall since it included the unit that clocked up the unauthorised trading loss of $141m back in Feb 2008.

Kevin gets $7.5m severance to ease his pain, but will have lost considerably more than that on his share holding in the firm since it went public last year at $30 and which closed at $2.25 on Tuesday.

MF Global have also got a new Global Treasurer, David Dunne who was previously at Bear Stearns in London for 15 yrs, but who will be based in US. It's a smaller job than it once was given that $3.5bn of client funds have been withdrawn from MF since March according to JP Morgan.

Disclosure - I was previously a board director at Man Financial [which renamed itself to MF Global when it listed in July 2007].
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