Grasso offered his resignation last night after the markets closed following a hastily arranged two-hour teleconference with directors. Seven of the NYSE’s 20 directors opposed the move.
In a statement the embattled chief said: ‘I believe this course is in the best interest of both the exchange and myself,’ adding that he was leaving ‘with the deepest reluctance’.
Grasso had been under pressure from the board and several public pension funds to resign following the storm over his pay package.
It began brewing last month when it was announced that Grasso would receive $140m (£88m) in deferred pay and retirement benefits. Bitter criticism followed when opponents discovered his pay was set by some of the people he oversaw.
The controversy finally reached proportions that threatened the NYSE’s reputation, prompting an investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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