12.20.12

9 Fun Facts About the NYSE’s New Boss

The newest big shot in the New York financial world is a guy from Atlanta who studied chemical engineering and loves go-carts.

The New York financial world is dominated by a handful of titans, middle-aged men who have scaled to the top of the heap and whose names generally appear in boldface. There’s Jamie Dimon of Chase, Steven Schwartzman of the Blackstone Group, hedge-fund manager George Soros, and … Jeffrey Sprecher?

Sprecher is the CEO of Intercontinential Exchange (ICE), a start-up derivatives exchange based in Atlanta, that Thursday morning agreed to buy the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange for more than $8 billion. As such, the heretofore obscure executive now occupies a place of privilege in the financial elite. Next stop, Davos?

Some facts about Sprecher and ICE

- Born in Wisconsin to a nurse and a salesman, Sprecher attended the University of Wisconsin, where he received a B.S. in chemical engineering. After signing on with an air-conditioning company, he got an MBA at Pepperdine University, with his company paying for the full tuition.

- Sprecher spent the majority of his career in the energy-exchange business. He bought the Atlanta-based Continental Power Exchange in 1997 from the MidAmerican Energy utility which became the foundation for ICE.

- Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) got started in 2000 as an online marketplace for energy trading in Atlanta—a sort of eBay for electricity.

- Sprecher made a name for himself in the financial world when, amid the 2008 financial crisis, he struck deals with 10 of the world’s top banks including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs to have ICE act as a clearing house for the trading of credit-default swaps.

-Now 57, Sprecher lives in Atlanta in a $10 million mansion—one of the city’s most expensive pieces of real estate—that he purchased in 2009. It features 11 bathrooms and seven bedrooms.

- Sprecher’s wife, Kelly Loeffler, head of investor relations at ICE, is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, the city’s WNBA franchise.

- According to ICE’s most recent proxy, Sprecher owns 1.547 million shares of ICE. At today’s market price, those are worth about $196 million.

- A sports-car aficionado who is known for challenging employees to go-cart races after work, Sprecher appreciates well-crafted items, like his $40,000 Patek Philippe, which, according to Business Week, displays the time in 24 zones.

- Leaning towards the right on politics, something not unheard of for a businessman, Sprecher dove deep into his pockets in the 2012 election cycle, giving $780,000 to the Restore our Future super PAC. He also hosted a personal fundraiser for Mitt Romney.