Nasdaq Needs New Executive After High-Level Departure

Stock Market

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There’s going to be a change of leadership at the Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ). On Monday, the exchange operator announced that Eric Noll, executive VP of Transaction Services in the United States and the United Kingdom, would be leaving the company. Noll, who took office at Nasdaq in 2009, accepted an offer from ConvergeEx Group, a broker for money managers and institutional investors, to serve as president and CEO.

Noll appears to be leaving Nasdaq on good terms. In a statement, CEO Robert Greifeld said that during Noll’s tenure, he “has been instrumental in solidifying the strategic direction and expansion of our transaction services businesses,” adding that, “We benefited greatly from Eric’s leadership and judgment in driving the diversification of the trading products and solutions we offer customers today.”

Perhaps the most relevant example of this is the July 1 acquisition of eSpeed, an electronic trading platform for U.S. Treasuries. The acquisition increased Nasdaq’s footprint in the fixed-income trading market, diversified the firm’s Transaction Services and Global Information Services businesses, and was spearheaded by Noll. ”U.S. Treasuries represent a significant opportunity to expand NASDAQ OMX’s trading business into a sizable new asset class that will provide our customers with access to a variety of instruments to better meet their trading strategies,” Noll said at the time of the acquisition, helping address concerns over diminishing revenue from equity trading due to reduced volume.

But it looks like Noll is interested in bigger, greener pastures. The Wall St. Journal reports that Noll was a favorite to succeed Greifeld as CEO, but Greifeld recently signed a contract to remain in his position until 2017. Noll may not have wanted to wait that long for his shot to sit at the top of the pyramid.

Noll, though, is not leaving Nasdaq with a perfectly clean record. He served as VP of Transaction Services during the infamous Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) IPO, and was in charge of the unit during some subsequent, but less severe, technical errors. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against the exchange operator, alleging that it made “ill-fated decisions” regarding its treatment of the Facebook IPO, which resulted in regulatory violations.

Most recently, the Nasdaq experienced a flash freeze that temporarily halted trading. While the damage was relatively light, the incident served as yet another reminder that financial exchanges are both enormously complex and prone to glitches. But being a top executive at Nasdaq during these incidents has likely helped prepare Noll well for the challenges he faces at ConvergeEx. “I have a unique opportunity to lead a global brokerage firm during this important time for the financial markets,” Noll said in a statement.

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