SEC Chairman Walter coy about her future at the agency

WASHINGTON Sat Feb 2, 2013 4:57am IST

Elisse Walter is pictured in this undated SEC handout photo. President Barack Obama designated Walter as chairman not as ''acting'' or ''interim'' chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on November 26, 2012. REUTERS/SEC/Handout

Elisse Walter is pictured in this undated SEC handout photo. President Barack Obama designated Walter as chairman not as ''acting'' or ''interim'' chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on November 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/SEC/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Elisse Walter said Friday she is unsure how long she will stay at the agency after Mary Jo White is confirmed by the Senate as the SEC's new chief.

"I will certainly be here until the new chairman gets confirmed and comes onboard," Walter told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the SEC's Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. "I have sort of decided not to think about it right now. That may be a very short time. It may be a very long time."

"What I want to think about is what work I have to do when I get up in the morning. The other is something I will leave as a decision for later," she added.

Walter took the helm of the SEC in December after Mary Schapiro stepped down as chairman.

She is able to continue serving at the SEC as a commissioner until the end of the year. Were she to stay longer, the U.S. Senate would need to reconfirm her.

Walter has never publicly discussed her future ambitions, though it was widely believed she was among those being considered by the White House as a longer-term candidate to chair the agency.

Last week, however, President Barack Obama announced that he was nominating White, a former federal prosecutor, to head the SEC.

White, who as U.S. Attorney for Manhattan prosecuted terrorists and mob bosses as well as white-collar criminals, does not have much SEC policy experience. But she spent her recent years in private practice representing some major players in the financial crisis, and her husband, John White, previously served as the director of the SEC's corporation finance division.

White's nomination has so far drawn little opposition, likely meaning that she will be speedily confirmed.

Until White is confirmed, Walter said, the SEC would press forward on a number of initiatives, including an agreement on reforms for the money market fund industry, a proposal for how over-the-counter derivatives rules will apply overseas, and a rule to lift a long-time ban on general advertising in private placements.

On the sidelines of Friday's meeting, SEC Republican Commissioner Daniel Gallagher said the agency is making progress on money market fund reforms and that commissioners are reviewing a "term sheet," or an early-stage document outlining a potential course of action.

"I think there is a path forward developing," Gallagher said.

(Reporting By Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Andrew Hay)

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