NEW YORK -- With the opening bell, the nation's oldest investment bank began trading on the nation's oldest exchange yesterday morning as Alex. Brown Inc. partner emeritus Ben Griswold III bought 100 shares in his company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Despite the lineage of the 200-year-old exchange and 191-year-old Alex. Brown, the two have been known recently for serving opposite ends of the investment business. The NYSE has been a focal point for the trading of established companies and Alex. Brown, although highly established, has been closely identified with the NASDAQ system, on which most of the young companies Alex. Brown underwrites tend to trade.
When Alex. Brown & Sons went public in 1986, it chose to list on the NASDAQ system and its chief operating officer, Joseph Hardiman, subsequently left to head the National Association of Securities Dealers, which owns and operates NASDAQ.
Listing on the NYSE "was a decision we came to this year after some thought," said Alex. Brown's chief financial officer, Beverly Wright. "There was always an awareness that the other major brokerage firms were listed on the New York Exchange, but we didn't come to the conclusion that we should until this year" after reviewing trading records,she said.
Given the topic's sensitivity at Alex. Brown, the company shunned the fanfare used by some newly listed companies.
The 80-year-old Mr. Griswold and a half-dozen other senior Alex. Brown officials, including his son, company Chairman Ben Griswold IV, had breakfast at the exchange yesterday, then came down to the floor to make the first trade of the day. Soon afterward, the group returned to Baltimore.
Ms. Wright said Mr. Griswold paid $22.50 for each of his shares. Alex. Brown's shares closed at $22, up 12 1/2 cents from Friday but down 50 cents from Mr. Griswold's opening trade.