John Nuveen & Co. is moving its negotiated municipal underwriting, variable-rate demand bond, and money market instruments group operations from New York to its headquarters in Chicago, a spokeswoman for the bond dealer said yesterday.

The move, set for Oct. 1, will consolidate all of Nuveen's secondary trading operations in Chicago, said Kathleen Flanagan, vice president of corporate communications at Nuveen.

About nine professionals in the firm's new York office are expected to be affected, she said, adding that all have been given the option of relocating to Chicago. So far, two professionals from the firm's money market instruments group have decided to leave the company, according to a source familiar with the changes.

Robert D. Freeland will remain as vice president and manager of the negotiated and variable-rate demand bond divisions after making the move to Chicago, Ms. Flanagan said. Mr. Freeland could not be reached to comment.

The spokeswoman said the company's relocation and consolidation plans were not inspired by budget cutting.

"We're consolidating resources to give more attention and to draw on the sources of the rest of the firm," she said of the move to Chicago.

But one Nuveen professional in New York disagreed.

"The main goal is cost cutting - that's what everybody thinks," the source said. "I don't think they want to deal with New York as a main office."

After the move, about 25 professionals, mostly salesman, will remain in New York, a source close to the changes said.

In early 1993, Nuveen's New York office will be moved out of the city's downtown financial district, Ms. Flanagan said. She declined to give specifics.

The expanded operations in Chicago will be headed by Thomas Muntz, now vice president and manager of unit investment trust sales, Ms. Flanagan said. Mr. Muntz will be responsible for secondary trading of all of Nuveen's packaged products, which includes unit investment trusts, MuniPreffered stock and the common stock of Nuveen's exchange-traded closed-end funds.

Secondary trading of Nuveen's exchange traded funds is expected to reach nearly $4 billion this year, Ms. Flanagan said.

Nuveen has been paring and reorganizing its forces lately.

In February 1991, the dealer cut 10 employees from its municipal bond department in New York and Chicago and placed the department under the firm's public finance manager.

As part of further restructuring at Nuveen, Ms. Flanagan will become manager of mutual fund organization and development, a newly created position, in December.

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