Andras Simor became chairman of the Budapest Stock Exchange just when they needed him most--when the market crashed in the wake of the 1998 Russian debt crisis. The plunge in liquidity exposed widespread abuse by brokers and shoddy regulation.
So the exchange needed a leader with solid credentials. They found it in Simor, who had spent more than 20 years as a financier in Budapest, London, and Vienna. "He has a reputation as absolutely straitlaced, the individual who can't be bought," says Peter Fodor, a prominent venture-capital investor in Budapest who has long known Simor.
The 47-year-old Simor's mission at the BSE is simple: "To make the exchange as transparent and safe and as cost-effective as possible," he says. So far, that has meant installing an electronic, real-time trading network; introducing an online information system for publishing trading data, company information, and brokerage reports; and pushing for a comprehensive redraft of capital markets regulations that should soon reach Hungary's Parliament.
Simor honed his skills in a high-profile role as chief of Creditanstalt Securities Budapest. He opened the Budapest office of the Austrian company in 1989, after 13 years at the National Bank of Hungary and just as the post-communist era was starting. At Creditanstalt he assisted in the mass privatization of Hungary's largest companies, including oil giant Mol and phone monopoly MATAV.
In 1999, Simor agreed as well to clean house at Deloitte & Touche Hungary, whose auditors had failed to red-flag irregular practices inside state-owned Postabank. Got a cleanup job? Simor is your man.