1. Nasdaq's Comic Relief
The Nasdaq finally emerged from its shelter Wednesday and announced it will offer cash and rebates totaling $40 million over the next six months to compensate clients burned by its bungling of Facebook's bomb of an IPO. Once it gets the sign-off from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nasdaq plans to pay $13.7 million in cash to affected member firms and offer the remainder to members in the form of credits to reduce trading costs.Let's start with the cash reparations first, because that's certainly the part of the deal that Facebook's biggest market makers -- UBS (UBS), Citigroup (C), Knight Capital (KCG) and Citadel -- regard as the most hilarious. The foursome contends it lost upward of $115 million because of the technical problems during the IPO, so Nasdaq's puny peace offering simply won't cut it. Knight Capital was the first responder to guffaw at Nasdaq's plan, saying it "does not come close to covering reported losses" and is "simply unacceptable". Okay, fine. Maybe they weren't guffawing, but we know they found the idea laughable. And while NYSE Euronext (NYX), the operator of the New York Stock Exchange, was not involved in the offering, it could not help but get in on the refund joke, claiming the plan forces "the industry to subsidize Nasdaq's missteps and would establish a harmful precedent that could have far reaching implications for the markets, investors and the public interest." Well, that's probably stretching things a bit too far, but you know if anybody is getting a belly laugh from seeing Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld squirm, it's those guys. Although it may be hard to remember now, there was a time not too long ago when you could not wipe the silly grin from Greifeld's now grim face after he beat out the NYSE for what was once a trophy listing. Now, with its stock down more than 30% from its offering price, Facebook has undoubtedly turned into the booby prize. And while it's understandable for Nasdaq's rival to smile over the sudden change in circumstances, for investors caught up in this unending sideshow, the losses are clearly no laughing matter. -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.
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