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April 1, 1999

A Populist AMEX Leader Says He's Calling It Quits

By Staff Reports

Richard Syron is saying goodbye to the American Stock Exchange. The Boston-born former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who trained as an economist, has led the AMEX as its chairman since 1994.

He is leaving the exchange in June to become president of Thermo Electron Corp., a Waltham, Mass.-based company that produces medical equipment and industrial machinery.

The company has 27 publicly-traded affiliates listed on the AMEX. Syron, 55, is on the board at Thermo Electron Corp.

His impending departure, announced seven months after the AMEX merged with the National Association of Securities Dealers, raised some eyebrows.

Integration

Some market veterans thought the AMEX would benefit by having a chairman who stayed long enough to ensure the integration of the Nasdaq and AMEX marketplaces.

The merger took place on the presumption that the AMEX would benefit from Nasdaq's superior technology, its larger equity-trading volume, and the possibility of attracting more new listings.

So far, the opposite has happened. The rival New York Stock Exchange has snatched listings from both Nasdaq and the AMEX.

In addition, anticipated cost savings haven't materialized. The exchange has only reduced headcount by 100 instead of the projected 200.

The bright spot is the AMEX's options and derivatives business. Volume is up and new products are proving to be popular.

Syron is credited with being a populist, street-smart leader, in contrast to his predecessor James Jones, a former Congressman who had enemies on the floor.

One of Syron's first moves was to eliminate the AMEX's Emerging Company Market, a small-cap market for promising companies which ran afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Future

While the NASD grapples with the future of its new AMEX sibling, the Big Board is in talks with alternative trading systems and others about alliances. Not that Nasdaq is being left behind. It is also talking about joining with partners.

Syron is therefore leaving an exchange in transition.

Dan Noonan, a spokesman for the AMEX, said Syron's successor is likely to be named before Syron steps down.

"Mr. Syron and [NASD Chairman] Frank Zarb talked in the past about his [Syron's] future in the organization," Noonan added. "I think you can expect a smooth transition."