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Obama's Choice for SEC Chief May Signal Shakeup

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission is a veteran Wall Street regulator who may end up leading a reorganization of the highly-criticized agency.

Mary Schapiro has 20 years of regulatory experience - first as an SEC commissioner, and later as the head of a parallel agency - the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - that oversees markets for commodities, such as oil.

Her experience with both agencies could facilitate a merger of the two entities - a move supported by some lawmakers. Mr. Obama has not explicitly endorsed the merger, but said Thursday that there is a potential need to consolidate regulatory agencies.

Schapiro is currently chief executive of a self-regulatory group for financial firms. Her organization, like the SEC, has drawn questions from lawmakers about whether it failed to properly regulate financial institutions and protect investors.

A political independent, Schapiro was appointed as a commissioner of the SEC by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. She was briefly named the acting chairwoman of the agency by former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Some information for this report was provided by Bloomberg and Reuters.