Gulf News

Nasdaq may take over Philadelph­ia exchange



Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. may acquire the Philadelph­ia Stock Exchange to expand in options trading after losing the race to create the first trans-Atlantic equity market, an official at the Philadelph­ia exchange said.

The closely-held Philadelph­ia exchange also has approached other markets and is considerin­g an initial public offering, said the official, who declined to be identified before a decision is made. An agreement with Nasdaq is weeks away at the earliest, the official said.

Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld plans to begin trading options in the third quarter, tapping a market that’s growing more than twice as fast as stocks. Buying the nation’s No. 3 options exchange could give Nasdaq an advantage over NYSE Euronext, the company formed last week when NYSE Group Inc. acquired Paris-based Euronext NV.

“There’s a world of opportunit­y, but we are not going to neglect domestical­ly,” Greifeld said in February after being asked whether he would consider buying an options market such as the bourse in Philadelph­ia, where the first US stock exchange was establishe­d in 1790. “There are opportunit­ies for us in many different ways.”

Nasdaq spokeswoma­n Bethany Sherman declined to comment on the discussion­s, which were reported late yesterday by the Wall Street Journal. Nasdaq and the Philadelph­ia exchange agreed to merger terms in 1998 before breaking off the planned combinatio­n the following year.

More exchanges are offering investors both stock and options trading to tap growing demand from investors for derivative­s that can boost returns on equities.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Internatio­nal Securities Exchange, the two largest US options markets, introduced stock exchanges and NYSE Euronext entered the business last year with its purchase of Archipelag­o Holdings Inc.

Equity options are the right, without the obliga- tion, to buy or sell stocks at a set price by a certain date. Options on stock indexes such as the Nasdaq 100 are among the most popular.

New contracts

Trading at the Philadelph­ia exchange rose 33 per cent in the first quarter, faster than the whole US options market, as new contracts on currencies geared for retail investors and exchange-traded funds lured investors. Last year, the exchange started trading futures contracts on interest rates.

Greifeld said in February that Nasdaq planned to capture 20 per cent of all US options trading by 2010. The Philadelph­ia exchange currently has a 13.4 per cent share, according to Chicago-based Options Clearing Corp.

Nasdaq made a failed attempt last year to acquire the London Stock Exchange, Europe’s biggest equity market.

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