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By HELEN HUNTLEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001
Raymond James Financial Inc. is having a little trouble hanging onto its board members: They keep getting better offers. Two of the 15 would-be directors listed in the proxy statement for last week's annual meeting had to step aside because of conflicts with their new gigs.
President George W. Bush tapped three-year board member Elaine L. Chao as secretary of labor last month after his first pick, Linda Chavez, withdrew. Chao, former president of the United Way of America, was deputy transportation secretary in Bush's father's administration.
Also bowing out: Hardwick Simmons, the new chief executive of the Nasdaq Stock Market. "Obviously, we can't have regulators on our board," chairman Thomas A. James told Raymond James shareholders. Simmons is past president of Prudential Securities and a former chairman of the Securities Industry Association.
Raymond James did manage to come up with one new director: Kenneth A. Shields, president of the Canadian brokerage firm Goepel McDermid Inc., which Raymond James acquired last year and renamed Raymond James Ltd.
In a first for the St. Petersburg financial services company, the annual meeting was broadcast live over the Internet.