The man responsible for transforming energy trading marketplace International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) has emerged as favourite to take the vacant chief executive's job at Lloyd's.

Dr Richard Ward, the former head of IPE, has been touted as the successor to Nick Prettejohn, who left Lloyd's at the end of 2005, reports have suggested.

Ward declined to comment, but said he hoped he would talk to Insurance Times "again in the future".

Insurance Times understands the list of suitable contenders has now been whittled down to a shortlist of candidates.

A source said everyone named on the shortlist was from outside the insurance industry.

This rules out Julian James, Lloyd's director of worldwide markets who is understood to be keen to be offered the top job.

Ward, who will step down as chairman of IPE, now re-branded as ICE Futures, in April, is credited with leading IPE into full electronic trading while acting as chief executive from 1999 until October 2005.

With the Lloyd's market now searching for a suitable electronic trading solution following the closure of Kinnect, Ward's success at IPE would appear to make him a strong candidate to take the top job at Lloyd's.

A decision is expected to made by Lloyd's chairman Lord Levene before the end of March.

Lloyd's declined to comment.