03/18/2014 03:16 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Numerous candidates could take the lead as TMX Group head plans retirement

TORONTO - An exhaustive search for a new leader of the Toronto Stock Exchange is underway with some old as well as new faces expected to be among those looking to replace Thomas Kloet, who retires this summer.

Kloet announced late Monday that he will step down as CEO of the TMX Group (TSX:X), the exchange's parent company, at the end of August.

The move opens up a number of possibilities for the future direction of Canada's biggest stock and derivatives exchange in an age of heightened competition and new technology.

"They're going to want somebody who understands electronic markets, and they're not going to want somebody who's the old guard," said Doug Clark, managing director of research at ITG Canada.

"The whole nature of markets has evolved."

Kloet took the reins at the TMX Group in 2008, shortly after the completion of its merger with the Montreal Exchange and as the industry headed into a period of widespread consolidation.

"Tom steered the ship through a very challenging period and TMX has made it out to the other side in relatively good shape," said CIBC World Markets analyst Paul Holden.

Among the potential candidates for the top job at the TMX Group is former Montreal Exchange head Luc Bertrand, who had been considered a leading candidate when Kloet won the job.

Bertrand was the public voice of the Maple Group Acquisition Corp., a group of some of Canada's biggest banks and pension funds, which acquired the TMX Group in 2012 after a prolonged takeover battle that thwarted a planned merger with the company that operates the London Stock Exchange that Kloet had championed.

Internal candidates seen as major contenders for the top position include chief financial officer Michael Ptasznik, who has been with the company in various roles for 18 years.

Other possibilities could include Larry Leibowitz, the former chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange's parent company, who exited his job when the NYSE Euronext was acquired last year.

Kloet helped oversee the expansion of TMX Group with new offices in London, New York, Sydney and Beijing and a more than doubling of its number of international companies listed.

However, shares of the company haven't made any significant gains since he joined in July 2008. After a rocky period during the economic downturn, TMX stock has returned to levels around $50, reaching a high of $56.75 last March.

Since then, the company's stock has fallen more than eight per cent, closing at $52.05 on Tuesday at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Further growth is expected to come from outside of Canada in the next few years with domestic opportunities expected to fade as more energy companies merge and listing activity remains stagnant.

Later this year, the TMX Group plans to open an office in Singapore aimed at solidifying new relationships with clients in the Asia-Pacific region, where Kloet has plenty of experience.

Earlier in his career, Kloet was the CEO of Singapore Exchange Ltd. where he oversaw the integration of the country's stock and monetary markets, as well as the initial public offering of Singapore Exchange shares.

He leaves the TMX Group and it new leadership with valuable links to a city and state's economy that has grown in leaps that most economists hadn't predicted.

With the TMX Group's feet in the local economy new partnerships with the local exchange could emerge over time.

"An outgoing CEO is not going to do any deals," said Clark. "You're going to watch to see who first takes this over."

"There are a lot of interesting emerging companies there who are trying to get a foot into the North American market," he added.