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Weill withdraws his name from NYSE nominees

ALBANY, N.Y. — Sanford I. Weill, chairman and chief executive of investment banking firm Citigroup Inc., asked that his name be withdrawn from a list of nominees for director of the New York Stock Exchange, said the chairman and CEO of the exchange Sunday.

The announcement came a day after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said the firm's involvement in a conflicts of interest investigation of Wall Street brokerages made Weill an inappropriate representative for the investing public.

After hearing of Spitzer's comments, Weill requested that his name be removed from the list of nominees, said Richard A. Grasso, chairman and chief executive officer of the NYSE, in a written statement.

"When Sandy and I discussed his potential service, he reminded me of his full agenda as CEO of Citigroup and the demands upon his time," Grasso said. "He only reluctantly agreed to serve and was adamantly opposed to engaging in a public debate over his qualifications to do so."

NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia said he wasn't aware if anyone else opposed Weill's nomination.

Spitzer, who pressed the conflicts-of-interest settlement now in its final negotiations, spoke to Grasso on Saturday, Pellecchia said.

The attorney general felt Weill's nomination would have sent the message that the investment banking world had not learned from past mistakes, Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp said.

"To have him as the investor advocate on the board was really inappropriate," Dopp said. "This is the company that really was the worst offender on Wall Street."

Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney securities unit is expected to pay the largest fine, more than $300 million, as part of a government settlement with Wall Street brokerages accused of biased stock ratings that hurt investors' savings and retirement funds.

The exchange announced Friday that Weill was one of six new candidates nominated for 12 spots reserved for public representatives on its board of directors.

Citigroup is one of several firms whose analysts are accused of inflating ratings of stocks they privately deemed risky to lure the companies as investment banking clients.

A Citigroup spokeswoman said she could not comment on Weill's decision.