NZX's short timeframe to replace outgoing chief executive Tim Bennett will see head of markets Mark Peterson take the reins on an interim basis from the start of next year.

The Wellington-based stock market operator's hunt for a replacement boss "is making good progress", but "given the timeframes associated with the search" it will appoint Peterson interim CEO from January 1, it said in a statement.

Bennett's early exit was announced at the start of this month with the board deciding it wanted a new chief to start at the beginning of the company's financial year. Bennett's original contract envisaged a five-year commitment to NZX, which would have taken him into 2017.

NZX's board has signalled its next CEO needs a "strong priority" to grow shareholder value while at the same time, growing New Zealand's capital markets.

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Under Bennett's watch, NZX oversaw a jump in listings that coincided with the government's partial privatisation programme, the expansion of a suite of derivative products, and the acquisition of SuperLife and Apteryx to boost the stock exchange's funds management business.

He replaced Mark Weldon in 2012 who had been in charge of NZX for a decade. Weldon oversaw a series of acquisitions that boosted the value of the stock exchange operator, though that included the Clear Grain Exchange which has been the subject of drawn-out litigation between NZX and its Australian vendors.

The shares last traded at $1.05, and have dipped 1.9 per cent so far this year.