- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. called the District home since it began in 1971 until it moved its corporate headquarters to Manhattan five months ago.

Nasdaq is unable to occupy its new home due to the widespread damage caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and forced evacuation of the area. But the three floors it leases now in One Liberty Plaza, across the street from where the World Trade Center stood, are intact.

Officials at the number two U.S. stock market say that despite the horrible damage to financial district, Nasdaq is likely to move back into the building once they are confident the structure is safe.

"Odds are we will move back in. We've got a lease, and we just moved in," Nasdaq Vice Chairman Alfred Berkeley says.

Nasdaq, which has almost 4,400 companies listed on its stock exchange, officially moved its corporate headquarters to Manhattan on April 18 to be closer to the world's financial center. It plans to be part of the area's rejuvenation, too.

"We want to be smart and methodical [about moving back in]. We also want to support the resurgence of the financial district," Mr. Berkeley says.

Nasdaq leases nearly 270,000 square feet in One Liberty Plaza from Brookfield Properties Corp., the Toronto property management firm that also owned the World Trade Center.

Only about 127 of Nasdaq's 1,200 employees work in the One Liberty Plaza headquarters. The firm also maintains a public market information site in New York's Times Square and has offices in the District, Rockville, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chicago and California. More than 500 employees work in the Washington region legal and executive offices and at a technology center.

Nasdaq isn't a physical stock exchange like the larger New York Stock Exchange. It is an electronic network of brokerages nationwide and its workers are scattered since there is no central trading floor. Trading is conducted through a telecommunications network, and its technology centers are in Connecticut and Rockville.

That is why damage in Manhattan didn't disrupt trading.

Since the terrorist attacks, Nasdaq has relocated employees who typically work in One Liberty Plaza to its Times Square, New Jersey and D.C. offices. But the reassignment of those workers is expected to be temporary.

Mr. Berkeley says that in about 60 days Nasdaq will have a better idea when it can move back into One Liberty Plaza. Nasdaq plans to have an independent assessment of One Liberty Plaza done by a structural engineer before deciding when to move back.

Two structural engineering firms said Sept. 13 after inspecting the building that One Liberty Plaza did not suffer structural damage. Brookfield president of U.S. operations Ric Clark said last week the building could be ready for occupancy in six weeks.

Cleanup of One Liberty Plaza will cost less than $7 million, Mr. Clark said in a conference call.

Broken windows on the building's lower floors account for much of the damage. Nasdaq occupies floors 49 through 51.

Nasdaq lost no workers in the attacks, despite its proximity to World Trade Center. A group of workers did witness the planes being steered into the building across the street.

Nasdaq spokesman Scott Peterson was with a group of executives in a room on the 49th floor of One Liberty Plaza when the first plane struck the trade center. They were on a conference call with Nasdaq employees in the District.

"I thought it was going to hit our building and I jumped under a desk," Mr. Peterson says.

After the second plane hit the trade center, occupants of One Liberty Plaza were ordered to evacuate. About 75 Nasdaq workers were on flights that morning and several had appointments at the World Trade Center, though they had not made it there by the time the first plane hit the building.

All employees were accounted for by about 4 p.m. that day.

Nasdaq workers saw some horrible sites, Mr. Berkeley says, but moving back into its new headquarters will help Nasdaq return to normal.

"We are very much determined to get back to normal," he says.

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