Ex-Mercantile chief to lead Nasdaq board

Baldwin, CEO Greifeld to split post Simmons held

April 16, 2003|By Trif Alatzas | Trif Alatzas,SUN STAFF

H. Furlong Baldwin, who retired last month as chairman and director of Mercantile Bankshares Corp., was named chairman of the Nasdaq board of directors in a series of management changes the stock market announced yesterday.

Robert Greifeld will be Nasdaq's president and chief executive officer and run much of the day-to-day operations.

Baldwin and Greifeld, an executive of SunGard Data Systems in Wayne, Pa., will replace Hardwick Simmons, who has held the chairman and CEO posts since 2001.

Baldwin, 71, and Greifeld, 45, begin their new jobs May 12.

Nasdaq officials said in February they were searching for a replacement for Simmons, whose contract expires this year. A Nasdaq spokeswoman said directors chose to separate the jobs so Greifeld can focus on operations while Baldwin, who has been the Nasdaq's lead director during the past two years, oversees the 20-member board.

Baldwin said yesterday that he decided to take the post to work with Greifeld and to help Nasdaq separate the roles of chairman and chief executive. Until now, the CEO typically held both posts, but such arrangements have come under criticism as Wall Street works to improve confidence in the way public corporations are run.

Baldwin said the change will help Nasdaq set an example for others. Baldwin was elected as a nonexecutive chairman, meaning he will not have an operating role in the stock market's business.

"We think at Nasdaq ... it is important that we be in the forefront of corporate governance, and this gave us the opportunity," Baldwin said.

Simmons, a former Prudential Securities executive, oversaw the Nasdaq as technology stocks tumbled after scores of high-flying initial public offerings. The Nasdaq, which is in transition to become a publicly traded company, is the trading home for more than 3,600 companies.

"The challenges that Nasdaq is going to be facing are the same ones facing other exchanges and that is the negative sentiment out there in the marketplace," said John Broussard, associate professor of finance at Rutgers University School of Business in Camden, N.J. "All markets are going to be faced with the challenge of having to bring back investors to the table."

Baldwin was Mercantile's CEO from 1976 through 2001. During his tenure, the company's net income increased every year and it became the largest independent bank in Maryland. Baldwin still has an office at Mercantile, but he is not involved in the day-to-day operations. He said yesterday that he will remain in Baltimore and will travel to New York and Washington for the six to eight Nasdaq board meetings annually.

"I think it's a prestigious job and it's a nice feather in Baldy's cap at a time in his life when he's still active and can be an important contributor in one of the more turbulent times in the investment world," said Jim Hardesty, president of Hardesty Capital Management, a local money-management firm and a former Mercantile employee. "It's going to be a long road back, and they can use all the talent they can get."

Baldwin retired last month after some insiders described a growing rift between his old guard at the bank and a new group headed by Baldwin's hand-picked successor. Edward J. "Ned" Kelly III became Mercantile's president and chief executive officer after Baldwin's departure.

"I'm delighted with Mr. Baldwin's appointment as chairman," Kelly said in a prepared statement.

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