• Mark Preston was City Index CEO until sale to Gain this year
  • Spencer helps control 66% Exotix stake through ICAP, IPGL

Exotix Partners LLP, the brokerage for frontier-market debt controlled by ICAP Plc head Michael Spencer, hired Mark Preston as chief executive officer as the firm expands into new markets.

Preston, 55, became CEO of London-based Exotix within the past two weeks and will report to Chairman Ivan Ritossa, he said in a phone interview. Preston was previously CEO of City Index (Holdings) Ltd., a brokerage that Spencer also controlled until Gain Capital Holdings Inc. bought it for about $148 million earlier this year.

Michael Spencer
Michael Spencer
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Exotix, which helps clients trade risky debt in markets from Ukraine to Ethiopia, is undergoing an overhaul under the control of Spencer, 60, as it pushes into trading equities and boosts its presence in east Africa, according to its annual report. The firm wants to “expand its dominance,” Preston said, even as other investors flee emerging markets amid concern the Chinese economy is slowing and a slump in commodity prices.

“What I’d really like to do is make it several times more significant for our investors than it already is,” Preston said. “I want to take it to the go-to place for anything that’s not traded on a screen, anything that’s not liquid.”

The Exotix restructuring triggered a loss of 5.4 million pounds ($8.2 million) for the year through March, the annual report shows. The firm’s revenue from fixed-income and equity-trading increased 31 percent for the year through the company’s third quarter, compared with the same period last year, Preston said.

“Although the partners consider the financial performance for the year to be disappointing, the result of an increase in costs related to the restructuring of the business, turnover remains constant and there remains optimism for the future growth of the business,” Exotix said in the report.

ICAP, the brokerage run by Spencer, owns about 20 percent of Exotix while IPGL Ltd., a company that he controls, has a 46 percent stake, the annual report shows. Bryony Scragg, a spokeswoman for London-based ICAP, declined to comment.

Chairman Ritossa, a former Barclays Plc executive, handled CEO duties after Philip Southwell stepped down in January. Southwell had replaced Matt Wreford in July 2013.

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