Former LBJ Aide Jones Named Amex Chairman
James R. Jones, a White House chief of staff under President Lyndon B. Johnson and a seven-term congressman from Oklahoma, has been named chairman of the American Stock Exchange.
Jones, 50, succeeds Arthur Levitt Jr., who resigned in May after 11 years as chairman of the exchange, the nation’s third-largest stock market behind the New York Stock Exchange and the National Assn. of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system.
“Obviously I come to this with a sense that equities are of great importance,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “This country was built on ownership of our companies. I think we have to get the individual investor back into the equity markets.”
Jones, a Democrat, was chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee during his congressional career from 1973-86.
He was defeated in a 1986 bid for the Senate by incumbent Republican Don Nickles and earlier this year lost a race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.
Jones, who served on Johnson’s staff from 1965-69, was the President’s last chief of staff. Jones also was chairman of a task force on U.S.-Japan trade relations and said he would make foreign market contacts a priority for the Amex.
The Amex, which caters to medium-sized companies, is far outpaced in volume by the NYSE and the NASDAQ over-the-counter market traded electronically nationwide.
The Amex grew from an average daily volume of 3.9 million shares traded when Levitt took over in 1978 to 9.94 million shares last year, but the number of companies traded has fallen to 895 from 1,004.
But the Amex in recent years has curbed the decline in its listed companies, marketed itself well domestically and abroad, emerged as a leader in options trading and offered innovative products and services.
Jones said he would use his contacts in Washington and abroad to try to “add to a climate of economic growth and capital formation” and help mid-sized companies develop capital and develop markets around the world.
“I think there are a lot mid-sized companies that are either unfamiliar or unsure of themselves in both markets,” he said.
Jones, a partner in the Washington law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, also said his contacts in Europe and Asia “will be very helpful as we move into this global marketplace and find a niche for the Amex.”
The exchange dates to the 1790s, when its brokers traded unlisted securities on the streets of lower Manhattan while others moved indoors. It was known as the New York Curb Exchange until 1953, when its present name was adopted.
The Amex in 1988 reported net income of $2.6 million on revenue of $102.8 million, compared to profits of $8.3 million and revenue of $114.5 million in 1987, its most profitable year.
Jones, who has been on the Amex board since January, 1987, is to take over Nov. 10. Levitt, 58, resigned to expand his publishing company, Levitt Communications Inc.