NASDAQ CEO Greifeld -- What's the in-flight movie? Wall Street? Geez, this is gonna be a long flight. You got any extra peanuts?
The Wall Street Journal reports that on May 18, the date of the Facebook IPO, NASDAQ CEO Robert Greifeld was missing in action for some five hours: "Nasdaq CEO Lost Touch Amid Facebook Chaos" (June 11, 2012). Apparently, amidst the stalled and fizzling offering, Greifeld took a United Airlines flight departing San Francisco at 12:14 p.m. ET for Newark, NJ, and was incommunicado for nearly five hours because of a defective seat phone and lack of in-flight Internet. Worse, when Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Schapiro called him for explanations, he missed her call - although he called her back upon landing.
You Heard It Here First!
On May 19, 2012 "Street Sweeper" broke the story that Schapiro was scheduled to address the the 37th International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Annual Conference in Beijing, China on May 16, 2012: "SEC Chair Schapiro Cites Serious Domestic Business For Cancelling Flight To Beijing" ("Street Sweeper" May 19, 2012). SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter informed the Beijing audience that:
As most of you know, our Chairman Mary Schapiro was slated to be with you today. She has asked me to send her heartfelt apologies for the fact that serious domestic business required her to stay at home because she couldn't be out of touch for the hours of flying time necessary to reach this beautiful and historic city.
In trying to divine Commissioner Walter's explanation and hidden implications of Schapiro's failure to launch, I asked in my May 19th Street Sweeper column:
Okay, let's see, Chair Schapiro apparently cancelled her appearance in Beijing at the last minute. Why? According to Commissioner Walter the SEC's Chair is involved in "serious domestic business." How serious? Serious enough to miss out on this lovely junket to China - and serious enough that Schapiro can't "be out of touch for the hours of flying time" to Beijing. How long is such a flight? Ahh, I looked it up online and learned that it's 13 hours.
Okay, let's see, what the hell is so serious that the head of the SEC can't travel for 13 hours to the annual IOSCO conference?
The allegations of misconduct by current and former employees in the SEC's Office of the Inspector General?
The Euro crisis?
NASDAQ's Facebook IPO launch problems?
Place your bets but just remember to give me credit for breaking this fascinating story here first.
So, SEC Chair Schapiro gets major points for seeing the future and doing the right thing. NASDAQ CEO Greifeld is really painted into a corner here - Schapiro can proudly proclaim that it's a do-as-I-do-not-as-I-say situation. If she gave up a junket to that vacation paradise of downtown Beijing for the IOSCO frolic, the least that Greifeld could have done was stayed put in San Francisco before departing for the tourist hot spot of Newark. Using Schapiro's excuse for not flying: "serious domestic business," one could hardly imagine that the wheezing Facebook launch by NASDAQ wouldn't fall within that same "serious domestic business" basket of concern.
Chalk up one for the beleaguered head of the SEC. Maybe NASDAQ should transfer its CEO's frequent flyer miles to Schapiro to compensate her for the lost trip to China and as punishment for its CEO travelling inside the cone of silence? Can anyone confirm the rumor that Greifeld was seen getting off his United flight wearing a t-shirt that said:
I flew to Newark and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and 2,000 shares of Facebook at $42