Nasdaq Names Adena Friedman Chief Operating Officer

Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld named Adena Friedman COO. This development was first reported on November 19 by Fox Business' Charlie Gasparino.

(The following is the original column)

Nasdaq, Inc. (NDAQ) Chief Executive Bob Greifeld is planning a management overhaul that will both set the stage for his retirement, and for the first woman to run a major U.S. stock market, the FOX Business Network has learned.

Greifeld has told Wall Street executives he is likely to announce that Nasdaq's President Adena Friedman, who holds the same title as Hans-Ole Jochumsen, will take on the newly created role of chief operating officer--a move market insiders say Greifeld is making to clear Friedman's path to run the Nasdaq when he retires, people with direct knowledge of the matter say. Under the plan, which has not been finalized, Friedman will maintain her current role as president. If all goes according to plan, an announcement of the management shakeup is likely in the coming weeks, these people add.

A spokesman for the Nasdaq declined to comment.

Greifeld's contract ends in 2017, and he has indicated to Nasdaq’s board that he plans to step down from the CEO post at that time, these people add. He has been CEO of the Nasdaq since 2003, and has guided the stock exchange through some turbulent times as vast changes swept through the securities markets.

“[Friedman] being named COO certainly lays the clear indications that she will be leading the company when Greifeld retires,” said Richard Repetto, an analyst for Sandler O’Neill & Partners. “She’s been an effective manager and has seen many different facets of Nasdaq in her different roles there.”

Repetto says Friedman’s appointment to CEO would also be historic; No woman has ever run a major U.S. stock exchange, in fact no woman has ever held the CEO title at a major Wall Street firm even as many banks make efforts to bring more women into top executive jobs. “This would be a first, no doubt,” Repetto said.

During Greifeld’s tenure as CEO, Nasdaq, like all stock exchanges, has seen its trading volume plummet as investors begin to seek out other venues to buy and sell stocks such as dark pools, which do so in secrecy and under law, do not have to provide the same transparency as major exchanges.

Greifeld has also launched a hostile takeover of his long-time rival, the New York Stock Exchange, which was purchased by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2013 for $11 billion. He has worked to repair the Nasdaq image since a technology glitch upended the Initial Public Offering of social media network Facebook (FB).

Most recently, Greifeld has sought to diversify Nasdaq away from its bread and butter businesses of matching buyers and sellers of stocks, and having companies pay to have their stock “list” on the exchange for their IPO and subsequent trading. Under his watch, Nasdaq launched various investor relations services such as providing data to listed companies, and has offered services to provide technology to smaller stock markets. Shares of Nasdaq have risen more than 800% since Greifeld took over as CEO; the size of the company has grown to $10 billion from $600 million under Greifeld’s watch.

Friedman joined the Nasdaq in 2014 from private equity firm the Carlyle Group, where she served as chief financial officer. Before joining Carlyle in 2011, she had been a long-time member of Greifeld's management team, and her return to the company immediately brought speculation that she would be Greifeld's eventual replacement for the top job.

But Greifeld has so far been reticent about naming a successor; both Friedman, and Jachumsen report to the CEO. The move to name Friedman COO with responsibility for all operations of the company would be the first official sign that Greifeld considers Friedman next in line for his job, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. In her role as president and COO, Friedman would be Greifeld’s No. 2 executive, controlling all of Nasdaq’s various operations, not just the listings and information services units that she now controls. It’s unclear if Jachumsen, who runs Nasdaq’s global trading and market services will report to Friedman or continue reporting to Greifeld under the new moves.

People close to the Nasdaq say while the top job is Friedman’s to lose, she hasn’t been guaranteed the CEO spot. “She still has to show the board that she can run the company, which is why Bob is giving her this new title,” said one person with knowledge of the pending management change.

Charles Gasparino joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in February 2010 as Senior Correspondent.