Robert Birnbaum Stepping Down As Head of NYSE
NEW YORK (AP) _ Robert J. Birnbaum is stepping down as president and chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange when his contract expires at the end of May and will be succeeded by executive vice president Richard A. Grasso.
Birnbaum, 60, who became NYSE president in 1985 after eight years as president of the American Stock Exchange, said in a statement Thursday that he is ″interested in pursuing other interests and opportunities,″ including membership on corporate boards and possibly an association with a major law firm.
His successor, Grasso, 41, is a 20-year veteran of the NYSE who has served as its executive vice president for capital markets since 1986 and is a member of the exchange’s management committee.
There was no indication that Birnbaum’s departure was related to the Oct. 19 stock market collapse, when the NYSE was strained to the breaking point by the plunge in prices and an unprecedented volume of trading.
NYSE Chairman John J. Phelan Jr. stated that ″Bob Birnbaum has been a valuable asset to the New York Stock Exchange during one of the most turbulent periods in its history.
″His many years of experience in operations and extensive knowledge of securities industry issues contributed significantly to the NYSE’s ability to operate smoothly and efficiently during the market crisis,″ Phelan said.
Grasso is known for his expertise with the exchange’s computers and communications systems, which are becoming increasingly critical. He is responsible for upgrades of the systems that will allow the NYSE to manage volume of 600 million shares a day by June as efficiently as it manages 225 million shares currently.
In an interview, Grasso said the exchange is working with member firms to remove bottlenecks so that the whole trading system will be able to handle 600 million shares a day - the record volume of last Oct. 19 and 20.
″I can’t give you the categorical statement that all 600 member firms will be at the point where we will be by June, but progress is being made,″ Grasso said.
Phelan said in a statement that ″it is imperative that the president and chief operating officer of the NYSE be thoroughly familiar with these systems.″
The NYSE said Grasso was designated by the board of directors on Thursday and would be formally elected on June 2.