Suspense Queen Mary Higgins Clark Buys Seat on Chicago Board Options Exchange

Suspense Queen Mary Higgins Clark Buys Seat on Chicago Board Options ExchangeMary Higgins Clark has been dubbed the "Queen of Suspense" for good reason: Her novels, especially early books like Where Are the Children (1975), helped revive and reshape the suspense genre into one that could again sell millions of copies, and influenced countless writers who followed in her wake. And even if sales of her most recent works of suspense aren't quite to the level of what brought her, in 2000, one of the most eye-popping ever deals for an author ($64 million for four books), they still consistently bring in a healthy amount of cash for her longtime publisher, Simon & Schuster (CBS). Her last novel, Just Take My Heart, was the 29th bestselling work of fiction in 2009, selling more than 360,000 copies.

Now Clark, whose novels have sold 80 million copies, is adding a new honorific to her name: member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). According to Bloomberg News, Clark bought her seat for nearly $3 million on March 11, the same day the Chicago options market said it would transform into a for-profit company and sell stock to the public later this year. As owner of one of the CBOE's 930 seats, Clark gets 60,000 shares of Class A stock, valued at $49.17 per share of the new company. CBOE Holdings, the exchange's parent company, told Bloomberg it plans to convert its ownership to about 68 million shares as part of a process to demutualize and offer stock publicly.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Clark's motivation appears to be a simple one: She wants to cash in, and buying stock in a newly publicly traded exchange will certainly allow her to do so. But the connection might not have been made were it not for her husband, John Coheeney, the former chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch Futures (and a former director of the Chicago Board of Trade) whom Clark married in 1996.

One analyst cautioned that Clark's investment may not pay out in the way she would like. "It's an average investment for her," Robert Webb, a finance professor at the University of Virginia, said to Bloomberg. "Hopefully, I'm proved wrong and she doubles her money quickly."
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