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Optionable CEO Quits

The chairman takes over as legal and operational woes mount.

Optionable

(OPBL)

CEO Kevin Cassidy has resigned.

Day to-day management of the Valhalla, N.Y.-based electronic broker company will be assumed by Chairman Albert Helmig, according to a statement issued by the company this morning.

Optionable has been under significant duress over the past few weeks. Its shares, which have traded as high as $8.63 earlier this year, plummeted to $1.01 at the close of trading on Friday, after a series of setbacks.

BMO Financial

(BMO) - Get Bank of Montreal Report

-- Optionable's largest client, accounting for about 30% of its revenue in the latest quarter -- announced last week that it suspended its business relationship with the trader. That move came just a week after the Toronto-based bank announced that it had incurred big losses on natural gas option bets.

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Matters have only gotten worse for Optionable. Late last Friday, firm Sarraf Gentile announced that it had launched a class-action securities fraud suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit names as defendants Optionable and some of its top executives.

In a statement, Helmig said, "in my new and expanded role as executive chairman I am going to assess the situation and guide the company accordingly."

The legal woes come as the

New York Mercantile Exchange

(NMX)

revealed a plan to compete with Optionable.

Nymex has a 19% stake in Optionable, which many observers believed meant that the exchange intended on either buying Optionable at some point or incorporating it into its own array of services. But Nymex's move to launch its own electronic service means that scenario is not likely. The Nymex service is expected to launch sometime in late June.

A spokesman at Florham Park, N.J.-based public relations firm Keating & Co., which Optionable hired for its crisis management capabilities a week ago, declined to comment.