Euronext CEO Boujnah Discusses AI, Brexit, and ESG at FIA Conference

Apr 10, 2024

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

Stephane Boujnah says you cannot afford to be late to AI, but also that exchange matching engine operators need to be precise, not roughly correct. The Euronext CEO spoke to John Lothian News at the FIA International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, FL, as part of the JLN Industry Leader video series sponsored by Wedbush.  Boujnah pulled no punches in addressing the impact of AI, Brexit, geopolitical risks, cybersecurity threats and staying competitive. 

“London used to be the largest financial center of the European Union. Because of Brexit, London is now the largest financial center of the United Kingdom,” Boujnah said. He said the total aggregate market capitalization of the Euronext markets, listed single liquidity pool and book on the Euronext platform is about 6.7 trillion euros, between twice and two and a half times the size of the aggregate market capitalization of companies listed in London. He noted that 25% of the shares traded in Europe are traded on Euronext. 

Boujnah also addressed ESG investing and how Euronext sets the tone by being a good example to other companies, and that starts with the CEO. He said that when he travels between Paris and Milan, he takes a seven-hour train trip that burns one kilo of carbon, rather than a plane that burns 100 kilos of carbon. 

Euronext also highlights companies that are best in class for ESG and makes them more visible to investors on the exchange, he said.

Boujnah addressed how global uncertainties impact the Euronext markets and how the exchange tries to mitigate them. He said that despite Covid, higher interest rates, a slowdown in China, an energy crisis and higher inflation, it is a paradox that index levels are higher, indicating that markets are focused on a broader set of factors. 

The second uncertainty is the war in Ukraine, which Boujnah said is just a two hour flight from his office. He said the financial markets in Europe will sooner or later be activated to finance war and defense efforts in Europe. “The times of Victory bonds would be back,” Boujnah said. “The time of national defense bonds will be back, it would probably be called European defense bonds, but capital markets will have to be activated to finance the significant efforts that Europeans will have to do for defense, and which was not predictable a few years ago.”

He said the key to success in cybersecurity is not just investing in technology and people, but also in a management culture of security. The intrusions often come when someone has left the “key in the door,” Boujnah said.

Regarding competition from alternative trading venues, Boujnah emphasized Euronext’s competitive advantage in quality of pricing and liquidity pool. He discussed the company’s expansion into the dark pool business and its efforts to demonstrate the true cost of trading on alternative platforms. He stressed, however, that 60% of Euronext’s business now comes from businesses not related to volumes. 

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