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The NYSE's New Broom

By Amey Stone

Poetic justice, perhaps? Or maybe just "what goes around comes around." On Sept. 30, John Reed, former co-chief executive of Citigroup, will step onto the finance world's center stage when he assumes his new post as interim head of the New York Stock Exchange. The next day, in an unrelated event, Sandy Weill, who shared the CEO spot with Reed before Weill ousted him in an epic boardroom battle, will relinquish the chief executive job at Citigroup (C), remaining on as chairman.

In a sense, the juxtaposition of career moves by these one-time rivals is more than an amusing coincidence. The truth is, many of the qualities that made Reed lose the top job at Citigroup to Weill three years ago now make him the perfect choice to reform the NYSE.

The exchange has been embroiled in controversy for weeks over the excessive compensation package afforded former Chairman Dick Grasso, who was forced to resign on Sept. 24 (see BW Cover Story, 9/15/03, "The $140,000,000 Man"). It also faces growing scrutiny over the trading practices of some of the Big Board's specialist firms and a mounting public outcry over its conflicting roles as both regulator and operator of the exchange.

TECH POWER. What's needed is a vision for the exchange's future -- for which the 64-year-old Reed is ideally suited. He carved out just such a role at Citigroup as a big strategic thinker, less interested in the daily nuts and bolts of running a company (and details like how to make quarterly earnings forecasts

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