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April 30, 2004

Top Trading Desk Builds A Bulletin Board Empire

By Peter Chapman

Citigroup Global Markets is joining the major leagues of OTCBB trading.

The big trading shop, which plans to make markets in up to 1,500 Bulletin Board names, recently hired a top trader from Knight Trading Group to run the operation. Gary Meselsohn, formerly co-head of OTC trading at Knight, will head the group. The group's ambitious plans include a new trading platform, which it is rolling out.

Citigroup currently makes markets in a small number of preferred stocks in Nasdaq's Bulletin Board market. As measured by volume, the firm is not a big player. For the month of March, Citigroup traded only 1.6 million shares, mostly in one name. The top four players, on the other hand, traded a combined 27 billion shares.

Citigroup expects its Bulletin Board initiative to "broaden our customer trading platform and enable us to increase profits and market share," according to an internal memo from Tom Richardson, head of Nasdaq trading.

Meselsohn has traded bullies' for the past 20 years. He began his career at Sherwood Securities in 1986 and also worked at Herzog Heine Geduld. Both firms are now shuttered. At Herzog, in its final days, Meselsohn was responsible for 1,500 stocks.

A trio of traders, Harry Nakielny, Steve Savoy and Auggie Vivenzio, are joining Meselsohn at Citigroup.