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NYSE execs owed millions

Two months after disclosing that its chairman was owed nearly $200 million, the New York Stock Exchange said Friday that its other top executives were due $133 million in retirement payments.

The disclosures underscore how the exchange has paid all its senior executives, including a regulator and a part-time adviser, on a scale equivalent to some of Wall Street's top bankers. As a quasi-public entity, though, the exchange reported a profit of $28 million last year, a drop in the bucket compared with the securities firms that it regulates.

John S. Reed, the interim chairman of the exchange, was quick to affix responsibility to the board and to Richard A. Grasso, his predecessor as chairman who resigned because of the pay furor.

``These numbers are `as they are,' '' Reed wrote in a letter to stock exchange members on Friday. ``For our management team, the recommendations for compensation were made by Mr. Grasso to the compensation committee of the board, approved by it and then by the full board.''

The largest retirement packages were $22 million each to Robert G. Britz and Catherine R. Kinney, co-presidents of the exchange and close associates of Grasso, who have worked there for close to 30 years.

Kinney and Britz also received $3.6 million each in 2002 and a bit more than $4 million in 2001, according to documents released by the exchange.

Perhaps more surprising were the compensation packages of Edward A. Kwalwasser, the exchange's top regulator, and William R. Johnston, an adviser to the chairman and a former president of the exchange.

Kwalwasser received salary and bonus of $1.7 million and $1.5 million in 2001 and 2002, respectively, amounts that dwarf government regulators and exceed the compensation of his peers at other self-regulatory organizations.

Johnston made $5.8 million in salary and bonus in 2001 as president, and as a part-time adviser earned $1 million in 2002.

The numbers struck many stock exchange members as high, given that none of the payment was in stock or in any other way at risk. Disgruntled floor traders contributed greatly to Grasso's exit, but many floor traders talked about the latest disclosures as a final snapshot of the cozy way the exchange had operated under him.

``The numbers are alarming,'' said James Rutledge, a stock exchange member. ``But some members remain disappointed that they didn't break the numbers down further. There are also questions about how a regulator like Mr. Kwalwasser gets $1 million.''

A search committee set up by the board is rapidly working to find a permanent chairman, and the new executive, expected to be named within months, may choose his own management team. Along with new leadership will come a new board and a fresh slate of directors, presumably creating a new, more accountable culture.

 
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