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LaBranche CEO Robert Murphy Resigns

November 14, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange’s largest stock trading specialist firm has resigned.

Robert M. Murphy, CEO of LaBranche & Co. LLC, a subsidiary of LaBranche & Co. Inc., left his position effective immediately, the company said Thursday. He will be succeeded by Alfred O. Hayward, a director and executive vice president of LaBranche & Co. Inc.

``My decision to leave LaBranche, which is not related to the ongoing NYSE and SEC investigations of LaBranche’s specialist trading practices, is a difficult one,″ Murphy said. ``I believe the time is right for me to pursue other interests.″

A spokesman for LaBranche declined to comment further Friday.

LaBranche is one of seven NYSE specialist firms and is also one of several being investigated by the NYSE and Securities and Exchange Commission for improper trading practices. The job of specialist firms is to make a market in stocks assigned to them by matching buyers and sellers on the NYSE trading floor.

Murphy had been suspended by the firm in September after he made public comments that were supportive of then-NYSE chairman Richard Grasso, who later resigned amid outrage over his $188 million pay package. At the time, LaBranche said Murphy’s comments weren’t authorized.

Shares in LaBranche & Co. Inc. fell nearly 5 percent Friday, or 44 cents, to $8.75 in midday trading on the NYSE.

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