Wall Street CEOs end ties to Del. stock exchange plan

120915_richardgrasso_1200
Richard Grasso in 2002, when he was CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Two well-known Wall Streeters who were advertised as backers of the Delaware Board of Trade (DBOT), a proposed stock market for small companies, have distanced themselves from the effort as it collects pledges of taxpayer-funded support.

Richard Grasso, former chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, and Joseph Grano, former CEO of UBS Financial Services, U.S. arm of the global Swiss bank, were listed as "members and affiliates of The Delaware Board of Trade" in this July press release about New Castle County (where most Delaware residents live)'s plan to lend its name to a $15 million revenue bond for the exchange to raise capital.

But NYSE's Grasso "never committed, and last week informed them he would not be involved," Grasso's spokesman and longtime lieutenant, Joseph Zito, told me. UBS's Grano "had intended to serve as an advisor, but has been very busy with other commitments and was not happy with recent developments at the DBOT. He informed management today (Dec. 8) he would not be involved moving forward," Zito added.

Grano informed one of DBOT's organizers, former Philadelphia Stock Exchange official John Wallace, that he was no longer willing to serve as an advisor on Tuesday, Zito said. Grasso informed Wallace and another DBOT organizer, former Cincinnati Stock Exchange official Richard "Nick" Niehoff, of his decision not to get involved by email last week.

Last week, County Executive Thomas Gordon said he had "moved a $3 million investment" from the county's park maintenance endowment fund into private DBOT notes paying 6% annual interest, to be backed by a license on software used to run the as-yet unopened DBOT market.

Gordon's administration was invited to further explain the county's investment in DBOT at a County Council committee meeting yesterday, but no one from his staff showed up, so it was adjourned, council staff said. DBOT's lawyer hasn't responded to inquiries. "There is no new information on the county's end at this time," county spokesperson robin brown said.