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CNBC's Gasparino: Niederauer Is Clear Heir to NYSE's Thain

NYSE Group's appointment ofDuncan L. Niederauer as president and co-chief operating officer makes him the clear heir apparent to John Thain, according to CNBC's Gasparino.

Niederauer, currently a managing director of investment bank Goldman Sachs, will oversee U.S. cash equities operations at the operator of the New York Stock Exchange. His appointment is effective April 9.

The appointment comes as "Thain's unofficial timetable for stepping down as NYSE chief quickly approaches," Gasparino said. "When he took the job in late 2003, Thain set a three-to-five year timetable and that puts the due date roughly in 2009 which is only two years away."

Gasparino also said that Niederauer, a long-time advocate of electronic trading, will likely put "the final nail in the coffin" in the open outcry specialist system.

"He's been advocating the replacement of specialists with computers, which he consider more efficient and less open to fraud," he said.

The NYSE's current president and co-COO Gerald R. Putnam will become vice chairman with responsibility for technology, product development and options.

Catherine R. Kinney will continue to serve as president and co-COO along with Niederauer, and will be responsible for NYSE Group's global listings business, which includes listings sales and client services and NYSE Group's market data business.

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