Duncan Niederauer, the recently appointed president of the New York Stock Exchange, plans to apologize to a group of specialists in the coming weeks for a remark he made several years ago that floor traders found offensive, CNBC's Charlie Gasparino has learned.
The remark, reported two weeks ago on CNBC, was made several years ago to an NYSE official. Niederauer, a top executive at Goldman Sachs and a proponent of electronic trading, said he wanted to limit or possibly eliminate the specialist system, where humans rather than computers make markets in stock because he didn’t “want five guys named Vinny executing my trades.”
Niederauer starts his new job at the exchange as second in command to CEO John Thain in April, but he hopes to meet with floor traders before that, possibly in a week or two, so he could apologize about the statement, Gasparino said.
Many floor traders found the remark offensive and following the CNBC report they sent a petition to Thain calling on him to rescind Niederauer’s appointment, Gasparino learned. The petition, according to one NYSE source, now has as many as 150 names on it.
Niederauer's decision to apologize comes after an uproar among floor traders that the remark was offensive and possibly derogatory to Italian Americans. In recent weeks, floor traders have been heard shouting the words “call me Vinny” in protest of the remark.
Many floor traders say the statement is particularly offensive given the fact that specialists played a key role in making sure orders were completed during last week's market rout when the NYSE computer system faltered, Gasparino said.
This isn’t the first time Niederauer has run into problems for making the statement. Several years ago, when former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso heard the statement, he responded with a famous line from the movie “Animal House” : “Neidermeyer-dead!”
At the meeting several traders say they plan to wear pins with the name “Vinny” on it; and one person close to Niederauer says he is considering whether to wear a pin with a red stripe through the name “Neidermeyer.”
Officials at Goldman said Niederauer had no comment but confirmed he will be making the apology. Richard Adamonis, a spokesman for the NYSE, said he had no immediate comment.