Exclusive: Inside Nasdaq's succession planning process

Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:04am EDT
 
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By John McCrank

(Reuters) - For more than two years, a recurring question has gnawed at the board of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc: If Chief Executive Bob Greifeld were to leave, who would step into his shoes?

The transatlantic exchange operator has been working on an answer, according to several sources familiar with the situation. The board, along with Greifeld, has put together a list of internal and external candidates for the top job and is searching for at least one executive to add to senior management ranks with an eye toward succession planning.

As it looks at a spate of consolidation in the industry and Nasdaq's relatively low valuation, the board has also been debating more radical steps, such as splitting up the company or merging it with the London Stock Exchange Group or another exchange, the sources said. One of the attractions of a deal with LSE is its CEO, Xavier Rolet, who is seen as a strong leader to run a combined business, the sources said.

Besides Rolet, external candidates on the list include Adena Friedman, Nasdaq's former chief financial officer who left in 2011; Magnus Bocker, CEO of the Singapore Exchange Ltd; Craig Donohue, the former CEO of CME Group Inc who is taking a job at OCC, the clearing house for all U.S. stock options; Tom Kloet, the CEO of Canada's TMX Group Ltd; and Chris Concannon, formerly of Nasdaq, and now a partner at trading firm Virtu Financial.

Eric Noll, who runs execution services for the No.2 U.S. stock exchange, is the top internal candidate for the CEO role, the sources said.

Concannon, TMX and Singapore Exchange declined to comment. The other executives could not be reached for comment. A Nasdaq spokesman declined to comment on behalf of Greifeld and the company.

No change is imminent at Nasdaq. In fact, Greifeld, the 56-year-old executive who has run the exchange operator for more than a decade, signed a new, five-year contract last year and sources say he has no immediate plans to retire. He also has strong support from directors, who see recent high-profile glitches such as a three-hour-long trading halt last month as par for the course in a technology-driven industry and feel Nasdaq is unfairly singled out for its mistakes.

One source described these debates among directors as part of regular discussions that every public company board must have to do its job properly.   Continued...

 
Construction crew work outside the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square, August 23, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly