Exchange may trade its Wall St. location for New Jersey site N.J. team woos market, but N.Y. officials don't put much stock in talks


NEW YORK -- New Jersey officials are offering the New York Stock Exchange financial incentives and real estate in an attempt to persuade the world's biggest stock market to move )) out of New York, NYSE officials said yesterday.

"A team from New Jersey made a presentation that was very compelling and encouraging," said Robert Zito, a spokesman for the 206-year-old exchange.

New Jersey officials made the pitch to the NYSE because it's outgrowing its lower Manhattan headquarters and may not be able to remain in the Wall Street area. NYSE Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Grasso told the New York Times that a plan to build a headquarters across Broad Street from the present site is "no longer viable" and that his first choice is a new complex in Manhattan's Battery Park City.

Zito said New Jersey officials called and said, " 'If you're going to leave Wall Street and Broad Street, can we talk?' And that's where it all started."

A new trading floor would cost $1 billion, NYSE officials say. Jersey City is among the sites that New Jersey officials pitched.

New York officials dismissed Grasso's comments as a ploy. "I understand what they're doing," New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday at a news conference. "I know when a negotiation is playing us a little."

Zito denied that publicizing the New Jersey offer is an attempt to pressure New York to offer generous incentives. Other NYSE officials said Grasso is speaking up to spur the city to action. They said it's unlikely the NYSE will relocate across the river, but not impossible.

"It's conceivable that it could move, just as it's conceivable the Yankees could move," said George Tobjy, manager of international business development at KPMG Peat Marwick. "But wouldn't make it an odds-on favorite."

Zito said if the NYSE moves it would retain its name, rather than becoming the New Jersey Stock Exchange.

NYSE officials have said for years that the headquarters is too small. The number of listed companies has almost doubled from 1,681 in 1988 to 3,047 at the end of last year. Grasso told the NYSE board about the New Jersey offer at its monthly meeting yesterday.

The NYSE was in talks with city officials for months about a plan to build a headquarters across from its existing building. NYSE officials said they fear it could take years for the city to condemn 25 Broad St., a former commercial building recently converted into apartments. Deputy Mayor Randy Levine said expanding in the neighborhood remains an option.

Pat Healy, president of the Issuer Network, which advises companies on where to list, speculates that the NYSE will stay in the financial district. "This is a location with 100 years of history," he said. "It's one of the most recognized facades on the planet, along with the Eiffel Tower and the White House."

The Battery Park City site being considered by the NYSE is just north of the World Financial Center, home to Merrill Lynch & Co., American Express Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

The New York Stock Exchange has operated in New York since its founding in 1792, when 24 brokers met under a buttonwood tree at what is now 68 Wall St.

Pub Date: 5/09/98

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