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Monday, September 22, 2003

John Reed

He's the interm head of the NYSE, it was announced today. NYT is skeptical of the choice:

"The announcement of Mr. Reed's appointment was a surprise. 'Reed is a strange choice,' said Martin Mayer, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of several books on banking. 'To my knowledge he has not had any interest in equity securities and he has not dealt with regulatory questions from the side of the regulator. As a banker, he clashed with regulators. He is very, very able, and I guess they named him because he was available.'"

WSJ is more charitable, focusing on changes he might make to the Big Board:

"Mr. Reed spoke at the news conference by telephone from an island in France, where he was vacationing, saying he has two main priorities over the coming months: to help find a full-time replacement and to shepherd in a strong set of corporate-governance changes that ensures the NYSE becomes an example for the companies that list, or trade, on the exchange.

"But some senior Wall Street executives are already speculating his appointment could have more far-reaching implications. Mr. Grasso was a forceful proponent of the Big Board's 211-year-old auction system -- where every trade still passes through at least one live trader on the NYSE floor -- despite a host of technological improvements. Now that thinking could be in play, especially given Mr. Reed's passion for technology. Mr. Reed wasn't available for comment."

Reed is most famous for losing the battle with Sandy Weill for control of Citigroup and being forced into early retirement. With this track record of being pushed around by big-time CEOs, he may not be the strong force the NYSE needs, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt--for a little bit anyway.