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April 1, 2000

Nassau Post Signals Zarb May Quit NASD

By Staff Reports

The leader of the National Association of Securities Dealers has stepped into a financial mess in a middle-class New York suburban enclave.

The intriguing part is why Frank Zarb, 65, made the move. His appointment as adviser to Nassau County on Long Island requires him to help straighten out the parlous state of the Long Island enclave's finances.

Zarb is busy at the NASD, however, where he must oversee a potential sale of Nasdaq, the introduction of decimal pricing and technical problems on Nasdaq. Zarb's Long Island duties were bestowed by New York Republican governor George E. Pataki.

Daunting Challenge

The financial situation in Nassau County is serious. The 2000 budget has a projected deficit of $200 million while its bond rating has been substantially downgraded. That means the county has to pay a much higher interest rate to borrow money.

Zarb is no stranger to Nassau County nor to politics. Before his appointment as chairman and chief executive of the NASD, he was the leader of the New York State agency overseeing the restructuring of the electrical power system on Long Island.

Zarb also held posts in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush administrations.

Zarb recently said auditing Nassau county's finances is "a pretty straightforward business question, and the answers are going to be pretty straightforward as to the options."

NASD Retirement

Speculation that Zarb may be planning to retire from the NASD has been swirling for several months. His Nassau County appointment has encouraged that speculation. The move is viewed as a possible sign that he is considering a return to government service.

Zarb may step down next February anyway, when his current contract with the NASD expires. "He hasn't announced what he is planning to do after that," said Andy MacMillan, a spokesman for Zarb at the NASD.