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Monday, October 21, 2013 - 12:00pm

Atlanta As Financial Hub

The New York Stock Exchange is a global brand and one that will soon have a foot planted in Atlanta. The Georgia firm that’s buying the exchange wants to bring jobs and recognition for the South’s new financial hub.

When Intercontinental Exchange, known as ICE, announced it was buying the New York Stock Exchange for $8 billion this year, many people said, “Who?"

Jeffrey Sprecher is the company’s CEO. He says that’s because the world still looks to New York as the country’s financial capitol. But he told the Atlanta Press Club Monday that finance is global. And that’s good news for Atlanta.

The company recently bought new offices in Atlanta, with a plan for the future.

“We bought this building with the intent we’re going to have a lot of job growth here,” he said. “And that’s really what this means for Atlanta. We’re going to create a lot of jobs.”

The company employs about 500 people in Atlanta. Sprecher says after the deal closes, which is expected to happen next month, the company will begin adding hundreds more.

In a wide-ranging talk, Sprecher also said equity markets need to change. That's because they can easily fall victim to flash crashes. That’s when high frequency traders send a particular’s stock’s value plummeting. And in response, he said, the market shuts down.

“We wait a few minutes and then we turn it back on and see if it works. And if it doesn’t, we shut it down again," he said to laughter from the audience.

He added, "I think there’s room for improvement to that system. And I think the New York Stock Exchange needs to lead that change.”

Sprecher was also asked about whether, his wife, Kelly Loeffler, who’s also an executive at the firm, is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Sprecher didn’t have a firm answer, saying it was “a very personal decision.”

“She’s not here today because she has a real job,” he said. “And it’s a big, important job in the company. She would be sacrificing a lot. Both of us believe in paying it forward."

He didn’t rule out that one day he might run for office. That came in response to a question from former Congressman Bob Barr, who asked whether Sprecher thinks the country is on the right track.

Sprecher's improbable journey to the top of the company that runs the NYSE began with a 1997 purchase -- for $1 -- of ICE.