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Levitt Is an NYSE Director Nominee

CalPERS backs the SEC ex-chief. Big Board gets about 100 nominations under its new process.

March 26, 2004|From Reuters

The California state employees' pension fund nominated former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt to the New York Stock Exchange board as the NYSE began allowing investors to suggest director candidates.

The Big Board said Thursday that it had accepted about 100 applications for its eight director positions. The deadline for nominations was Wednesday.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System nominated Levitt. Separately, North Carolina Treasurer Richard Moore -- who sits on the NYSE's board of executives, an advisory committee -- was nominated by New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Two weeks ago, the Big Board said it would allow investors to nominate directors as part of its broader effort to reform governance practices after the furor over former Chairman Richard Grasso's $188-million pay package. CalPERS and New York pension funds played a prominent role in Grasso's ouster in September.

NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia said the recommendations would be given to the nominating and governance committee.

The new directors, who will serve for one year and be paid $60,000, will be elected at the NYSE's June 3 annual meeting.

CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, also nominated Ralph Whitworth, a principal at investment fund Relational Investors, CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said.

The Big Board is undergoing broad institutional reform in the wake of Grasso's departure.

This month, it accelerated the start date of its chief regulatory officer, Richard Ketchum, by three months.

However, it has yet to name someone to replace interim Chairman John S. Reed.

The exchange has said director candidates must be independent from NYSE members, member firms, listed companies and exchange management.

They also must have the experience to gain a basic understanding of the exchange's functions and goals.

The new nominating procedure is one of several sweeping reforms the Big Board has made to its regulatory infrastructure since Grasso left.

It underscores the vigor that the NYSE has undertaken to recover from one of the most tumultuous periods in its 211-year history.

Late last year, the exchange split its board into one set of independent directors who oversee compensation and regulatory matters and one contingent of directors made up of Wall Street professionals who monitor all business and market-related issues.

Last month, five of the largest floor-trading firms at the heart of an investigation into allegations of improper trading at the NYSE reached a tentative $240-million settlement with regulators.

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