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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Billionaire Prepares Offer for NYSE

NEW YORK -- Billionaire Kenneth Langone is preparing an offer for the New York Stock Exchange, the world's biggest stock market, people familiar with the plan said.

A bid by Langone, 69, would disrupt a proposal by the NYSE to acquire Archipelago Holdings, an electronic securities market, and use it to turn the 212-year-old Big Board into a publicly traded, for-profit company.

Langone could gain control of an institution that ousted his friend, former NYSE Chairman and chief executive officer Richard Grasso, in September 2003.

Langone regards the NYSE's bid for Chicago-based Archipelago as unfavorable for the Big Board's 1,366 seat holders, said Jim McCarthy, a spokesman for Langone, in a telephone interview. He was not more specific and Langone declined to comment.

"I welcome a bid," said William Higgins, a former floor broker and founder of the Association of NYSE Equity Members, a Big Board seat holders group. "I hope there will be others."

NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia and Archipelago spokeswoman Margaret Nagle declined to comment.

Langone is seeking funds from securities firms to back his takeover attempt, said the people, who declined to be identified.

A successful bid would upset NYSE CEO John Thain's plan to merge the Big Board with Archipelago's electronic-trading technology, and gain a foothold in the derivatives market and the trading of shares listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Langone planned a rival bid for Archipelago. McCarthy said Langone had no such intention.

Langone, who headed the NYSE's compensation committee from 1999 to 2003, is a co-defendant in New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's suit to recover most of Grasso's $140 million retirement package. Langone, chairman of New York-based investment bank Invemed Associates and co-founder of Home Depot, has called the case "factually empty" and has said Grasso was underpaid.

Part of what is motivating Langone is Goldman Sachs Group's role in the Archipelago transaction, the people familiar said. New York-based Goldman, the world's No. 3 securities firm, is an Archipelago shareholder and NYSE seat holder, and is acting as merger adviser to both sides.