Nasdaq's No. 2 executive leaving to head brokerage

Reuters

By Jessica Toonkel and John McCrank

NEW YORK, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group Inc said on Monday Eric Noll, the exchange operator's top internalcandidate to replace Chief Executive Robert Greifeld, is leavingto become president and chief executive of brokerage ConvergEx.

Noll will replace Joseph Velli, current CEO of ConvergEx,which is owned by Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR andBank of New York Mellon, by the end of the year, ConvergEx said.

"This was a unique opportunity to be a CEO of an importantplayer in the market place," Noll said in an interview. He saidhe was approached about the job in recent weeks and that he willstart at ConvergEx immediately.

Noll said there are no immediate plans for an initial publicoffering or a sale of the firm.

"I am interested in going there to build a business, to growa business, to take advantage of opportunities," he said, addingthat ConvergEx's growth would be both organically and throughacquisitions under his leadership.

Nasdaq said it would assess both internal and externalcandidates for Noll's replacement and that it plans to fill therole near the end of the first quarter.

Tom Wittman, a former president of the Nasdaq OMX PHLXoptions market who now manages all of Nasdaq's products andpricing for U.S. equities and derivatives, is likely to fillNoll's position, said two sources who wished to remain anonymousbecause they are not permitted to speak to the media.

Brian Hyndman, senior vice president of global data productsat Nasdaq, could also be considered for the role, one of thepeople said.

HOLE IN THE PLAN

Nasdaq has been at the center of a few high-profile problemsin the past couple of years, most recently in August, when allNasdaq stocks were halted for three hours due to a glitch in adata-processing system run by the exchange operator. Last yearNasdaq was in the spotlight after it botched Facebook Inc's market debut, eventually agreeing to pay up to $41.6million to firms harmed in the IPO and a $10 million fine toregulators.

Noll was not directly responsible for either of thoseincidents, but was still under pressure as a result of them,numerous industry sources said.

The departure of Noll, who masterminded Nasdaq's $750million purchase of electronic Treasuries-trading platformeSpeed that closed in July, leaves a hole in Nasdaq's successionplanning process.

Nasdaq's board and its executives have been working onsuccession planning with some urgency since early 2011 whenAdena Friedman, then chief financial officer, left to joinprivate equity firm Carlyle Group LP.

Greifeld had been positioning Friedman as his successor, andher departure put a spotlight on the lack of depth in themanagement bench.

There are a host of external candidates for the top job atNasdaq, Friedman included, though Greifeld has no immediateplans to leave the company, sources told Reuters in September.

Besides Friedman, external candidates on the list includeXavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange ; MagnusBocker, CEO of the Singapore Exchange Ltd ; CraigDonohue, former CEO of CME Group Inc, who is taking ajob at OCC, the clearinghouse for all U.S. stock options; TomKloet, CEO of Canada's TMX Group Ltd ; and ChrisConcannon, formerly of Nasdaq and now a partner at trading firmVirtu Financial.

Noll, an expert on market structure and a former SusquehannaInternational Group executive, was hired by Nasdaq to replaceConcannon a little more than four years ago.

Fox Business Network reported earlier on Monday that Noll,who heads execution services at Nasdaq, was leaving the company.

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