view of business is different': Cantor CEO
Reuters News Agency, with files from
Friday, September 14, 2001
NEW YORK -- Howard
Lutnick, chief executive officer of bond brokerage Cantor
Fitzgerald LP,didn't make it to work on time Tuesday
because he took his son to his first day of kindergarten.
And thus, he was not counted among 700 New York-based
employees of the company's World Trade Center headquarters who
perished in the attack that started when American Airlines
Flight 11, en route from Boston to Los Angeles, sliced through
the north tower about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Cantor is one of the world's largest fixed-income
interdealer brokers. It resumed trading yesterday from its
backup site in New Jersey, company officials said.
Of its more than 2,300 employees worldwide, about 1,000
occupied floors 101 through 105 of the World Trade Center's
north tower. About 700 of those employees, including Mr.
Lutnick's brother, who worked on floor 103, are believed to
have perished. About 270 survived.
"I didn't go in early that morning," a teary Mr. Lutnick
told ABC-TV's Connie Chung in a televised interview yesterday.
"My little boy . . . it was his first day of kindergarten. . .
. I took him for the first day of big boy school and because
of that I was late to the office."
Mr. Lutnick said he was on the way into the building when
all hell broke loose. He stood by the door grabbing people and
asking them to call out their floor numbers as they ran out.
Ninety-one was the highest number he heard before the other
People were screaming and running out of the building and
he saw the second tower collapse above him. "I turned around
and ran," he said. "I was standing underneath the building
like an idiot," he said. "I touched my eye. I couldn't see my
hand. I could feel the particles in the air. . . . I was just
standing there thinking that I can't believe it. . . . Four
hours I walked. I just walked."
Mr. Lutnick said he spoke with two employees who were badly
burned and hospitalized in critical condition and that he was
praying for them "to pull through and be strong."
He said that Cantor employees in Los Angeles and London
were on conference calls with employees in New York at the
time of the attack and listened in horror as people screamed
before lines went dead. "They couldn't go down, they couldn't
go up," he said.
Mr. Lutnick said the incident has permanently changed him.
"My view of business is different. I need to try to be
successful in business so I can take care of . . . 700
families who are dreaming to find someone. . . . I have a
different kind of drive. It's not about my family. I can kiss
my kids tonight. But other people won't get to kiss their
To that end, Mr. Lutnick posted his home telephone number
on his company Web site and has been taking calls from
relatives of his employees at all hours of the night. "Women
are calling me . . . they don't know how to pay their mortgage
and they don't know what they're going to do," he said.
About 200 other New York-based employees want to work, he
said, because they want to stay occupied. "I think we are all
pulling together with the view we want to make things happen
for them. We need to take care of them."
"It's amazing," he said, of his employees. "Three hundred
people lost all their friends. They lost the person to their
left, the person to their right. They call me up and say: 'I
want to go to work. . . . I can't stay home.' "
Near the end of the interview Mr. Lutnick, who cried at
various points throughout, broke down and wept. "I have to . .
. do something," he said, ". . . for the 700 families. Seven
hundred families. Seven hundred families. I can't say it
The 56-year-old Cantor, a broker for other brokers, handled
about one-quarter of daily trades in the $3-trillion (U.S.)
government bond market. The firm is pivotal to the market,
"Cantor is indispensable," said Sean Dobson, president, CEO
and head trader at Amherst Securities Corp. in Houston. "Even
though these markets may be electronic, they are based on
information and trust, which is gathered over the phone from
people who you've worked with for years," he said.
Customers that want to do business must contact the firm
through the London office, a spokeswoman said.