Transcript: Seaport Securities' Ted Weisberg

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 21, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: When you picture Wall Street it is hard not to picture the New York Stock Exchange, especially on big days like this, with big gains. And when you picture trading on Wall Street, it is really hard not to picture the floor of the exchange bustling with activity. But is all that about to change?

After 212 years, the NYSE is making a move toward electronic trading, hooking up with Archipelago. Now, what do veteran floor traders make of this?

Ted Weisberg has been there for the entire 212 years.


CAVUTO: He is joining us right now. Ted is the founder of Seaport Securities. He's really one of the classiest guys on the Street. He's been on the floor since 1969, really one of the gems of Wall Street.

Also joining us, another gem of FOX News Channel, the senior business correspondent Terry Keenan, host of "Cashing In."

Here's what I understand it means, Ted, for all of you guys, that you walk away with a $300,000 parting prize and whatever the value of your seat would be turned into an equity operation, which would be close to $2 million. So, why should anyone feel sorry for you guys?

TED WEISBERG, FOUNDER, SEAPORT SECURITIES: Well, I don't think anybody should feel sorry for us. But, you know, at the end of the day, Neil, there are 1,366 members, I guess other than myself, 1,365 that actually own the exchange.

And there are some people that feel that, in fact, the franchise perhaps might be worth a little more than that. But, that aside, this is a pretty exciting deal that is proposed.

CAVUTO: So, you're for it?

WEISBERG: Oh, I think, in principle, it sounds like it's a big plus.

CAVUTO: Would you stick around after all this goes through?

WEISBERG: Well, absolutely. If I could roll the clock back 20 years, I would, because it's a great place to work.

CAVUTO: Yes. It's a good chunk of change.

But I guess, Terry, the issue is whether we need — and this is no smirch meant to Ted — people like Ted.

TERRY KEENAN, FOX NEWS SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we need people like Ted, because, as you know, he has a lot of integrity and a lot of smarts and a lot of experience.

CAVUTO: He keeps telling us that.


KEENAN: And we've seen it in action.

But, you know, the question is, what happens to the thousand other men and women who are on the floor who don't own seats? And what's kind of interesting is that this deal prices these seats around $1.8 million, just a little bit above where the seats were trading. And it kind of begs the question to me, what about all the technology, millions of dollars of technology, that was spent? What about the building, the real estate? Is the only thing there of value the seats?

CAVUTO: Yes, that's what I wonder. I mean, are you going to become what Nasdaq is just around the block from here, just a bunch of terminals?

WEISBERG: Well, that addresses what I just said a few seconds ago, that perhaps the deal, as it has been proposed — and we really haven't seen all the numbers yet — is in fact maybe a little shy of what it ought to be financially.

CAVUTO: But let's not talk about the financial deal. Let's talk about whether we need specialists. The message that a lot of people glean from this, Ted, fairly or not, is that, as wonderful as you are, we don't need guys like you. We just need computers who can get the orders filtered through in seconds vs. the 12 or 13 seconds it takes you guys. End of story.

WEISBERG: Well, no, of course, I'm not going to agree with that.


WEISBERG: For some people, it's about speed. But, for other people, it's about price. And the floor really is an opportunity for price discovery.

CAVUTO: Is it, though?

WEISBERG: Oh, yes.

CAVUTO: It's just a bunch of guys shouting at each other.

WEISBERG: Well, no, I don't think it's quite that. Every day, my job is really twofold. But the most important job is to add value to the execution process, where the rubber meets the road.

And we represent individual clients and we represent institutional clients where we give them the opportunity for price improvement. And I would think what's so exciting about this proposed merger is that it really combines technology and the human element. And I would suggest that the floor is not going to go away.

CAVUTO: I think it's going to go away.

KEENAN: I agree with you over time. And I think that, you know, the New York Stock Exchange 20 years from now might be condos or perhaps a museum to the trading that went on 212 years.

CAVUTO: Pictures of Ted there.



Whenever there's been an exchange that sort of has this hybrid form of either using the technology or using the human beings, eventually, it migrates to the technology. And Archipelago, which will be the NYSE group now, is going to trade 25 percent of all Nasdaq stocks. Or that's what they're trading right now. And that number will probably go up. That's all done electronically. And...

CAVUTO: See, that's what's sad to me, Ted, and I guess I see this, that I know everything — it's high-tech and people want faster orders. They want fairness and all that. But it kind of reminds me of when you call the help desk for a computer and you're getting someone half a world away who knows nothing about your computer and barely speaks English.

And I'm just wondering whether the way of the world has come to your world and whether that's going to be good for people.

CAVUTO: Well, first of all, I'm not sure that it's going to play out the way you are both suggesting it will. I would remind you that, in 1974, which neither of you probably would remember, we were looking at the end...


CAVUTO: Richard Nixon was president and he resigned that year.


WEISBERG: We were looking at the end of fixed commissions in May of 1975 and that looked like the end of the world.

CAVUTO: The end of the world. You're right.

WEISBERG: As far as the New York Stock Exchange was concerned.

Now, for 36 years, I've been hearing about the demise of the New York Stock Exchange.

CAVUTO: Now it's picking up steam, right? The Archipelago thing, you can't deny that that picked up a little steam.

WEISBERG: The New York Stock Exchange, with all the electronics that are around in the world today, all these...


WEISBERG: Yes, and still does 80 percent of all the business. They've had that same market share throughout all the introduction of all these electronic delivery systems.

CAVUTO: And you don't see that changing?

WEISBERG: I suspect there is going to be a lot of changes. But I think to discount and put a big negative circle around them is a big mistake.

CAVUTO: Well, we're still sucking up to you because you're going to be rich either way, all right? So, we're still going to be calling on you.


CAVUTO: Ted Weisberg, thank you very much, my friend. Good seeing you.

Terry, thanks for sorting through this.

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