Before Alison Carnwath, who stepped down from Barclays' board earlier this week, reportedly tussled with directors over management compensation, she helped build a firm that's seen problems of its own: MF Global.
Carnwath was chairman of MF Global from 2007 through 2010, shepherding the firm's spinoff from U.K. hedge fund manager Man Group in July 2007. She guided the firm after a rogue trading incident in February 2008 resulted in a $140 million loss. At least two executives were let go.
"She was a voice of reason and discipline," says a source who worked with Carnwath during her time at MF Global.
Carnwath, 59, chaired MF Global's board while Bernard Dan was brought in as chief operating officer in June 2008, then elevated to chief executive in October that year. She also engaged the services of Promontory Financial Group, a global consulting firm that advises on compliance, risk management and regulatory issues.
She told MF Global's board in December 2009 she would step down in August of 2010, but stepped down as chairman early after incoming CEO Jon Corzine also asked for the chairman title. "I had always wanted to oversee that initial period after the IPO," she said in an interview. She remained an MF Global director until August.
Corzine, a former New Jersey governor and Goldman Sachs chairman, asked for the chairman title during March 2010 discussions to join MF Global as CEO, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Carnwath supported his hire. One source said she saw him as "the guy who could help us pull the firm out of the fire." She wasn't part of the four-person "landing committee" that met with Corzine for eight hours to help sell him on the job.
A spokesperson for Corzine declined to comment.
Carnwath left in August 2010 to join Barclays, which had been courting her for a couple of years by then. She is also known for her love of intense hiking and fitness activities.
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