'Brooklyn Bruiser' Amaitis to take a back seat at BGC

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The Independent Online

One of the hard men of City trading, Lee Amaitis, is taking a back seat from the day-to-day running of operations at the broker BGC. He will step up to a more strategic role at the financial services company, which he helped to rebuild after its New York offices were devastated in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

The company's London-based joint chief executive for the last dozen years, Mr Amaitis will now become vice-chairman of BGC and focus on strategic issues such as acquisitions, corporate development and key broker hires.

Shaun Lynn, BGC's president, will take over the operational running of the company, with Mr Amaitis handing over to him at the end of the year.

BGC, which provides voice and electronic brokerage services, separated from the fixed-income finance house Cantor Fitzgerald in 2004.

A flamboyant straight operator to some and a bully to others, Mr Amaitis is known as the Brooklyn Bruiser for his brash and direct style. He helped restore the operations of his company in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. Cantor Fitzgerald's New York offices were in one of the twin towers and the firm lost 658 employees when they were destroyed.

Mr Amaitis replicated Cantor's New York operations in London while his US colleagues reorganised, allowing the company to pull through the crisis. However, his brash management style has not pleased all and he landed in court when a former employee, Steve Horkulak, took legal action against Cantor Fitzgerald for constructive dismissal in 2003, claiming he was bullied by Mr Amaitis. Mr Horkulak won the case, although the amount of compensation was later reduced on appeal. The case attracted additional attention because of allegations of swearing and abuse as well as stories of brokers attending lap-dancing clubs.

Mr Amaitis joined Cantor Fitzgerald in 1995 and has lived in London to run its European operations since 1996. The company has more than trebled in size in the last three to four years and now has more than 1,750 employees.

Mr Amaitis has found growth not just by hiring individuals but also by buying rivals in markets such as France, Singapore and Brazil.

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