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Tom Healy

BEFORE Tom Healy came along, the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) was a sleepy place. Between 1973 and 1986 there were no new company listings, it was dependent on the London exchange and sold a limited range of shares.

Healy signed up as chief executive of the ISE just two months after the 1987 global stock market crash. Up to that point, the 37-year-old had worked in public relations.

From 1989, the ISE began offering a listing service for foreign investment funds, building up 4,000 of these. It had also moved to electronic trading. In 1995 the ISE broke away from London. It was becoming a global player in listing investment funds and specialist debt instruments.

The new adventurousness had its risks, though. More global customers and more sophisticated products meant that when the subprime debacle exploded, the ISE was exposed. Dublin-listed funds such as the German bank Sachsen LB and Cheyne Finance emerged to be carrying big toxic debt.

In 2006 Healy was headhunted by Abu Dhabi to head up its fledgling exchange, and he left Dublin in June 2007. By the end of 2006, the ISE had trading worth around €108bn and had built up €51.7m of retained earnings, so there were smiles all around as Mr Healy left the ISE with a €520,000 golden handshake.

Healy's time with the fledgling Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange saw him attract big-hitting brokers such as Citigroup and HSBC and Deutsche Bank to the market. He is also credited with the successful rebranding of the market. However, the financial crisis at Dubai has recently overshadowed the market.

Last week, with his 60th birthday fast approaching, Healy announced he was to retire and intends to return to Ireland. Born in Westmeath in 1950, he studied economics at Trinity College, Dublin.

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