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Amex Members Vote in Favor of Nasdaq Deal

After three months of haggling among members, the merger of the

American Stock Exchange



was completed tonight when Amex members voted overwhelmingly to support the union.

The final tally was 622-206 in favor of merging with Nasdaq, a 75% margin in a situation that required backing from 62 2/3% of the membership. "Getting a vote of that magnitude is a signal of the potential power of this organization," said Amex chief

Richard Syron

. Regulatory approvals to alter the board structures at both organizations are expected to take 90 days.

The deal, which would join the screen-based dealer market of Nasdaq with the auction market environment of the Amex -- which is also the second-largest options exchange in the U.S. -- bred some concern among Amex seat owners that the value of their franchise eventually would be usurped by electronic trading.

But late this afternoon, the turnout was light for a last-minute member meeting to discuss the merger, leading some to believe that approval of the deal was a foregone conclusion. Member groups within the Amex have already given the nod to joining the Nasdaq, in what is being spun as the "Market of Markets."

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Last week big seat owner Paul Liang, a major opponent of the Nasdaq deal,

sold his 18 Amex seats to

Spear Leeds Kellogg

, a major trading firm, before buying two of them back. In strongly opposing the Nasdaq deal, Liang said that there were few true synergies in the merger and that it would impact the value of options seats on the exchange. Exchange executives conducted eight roadshows, and "innumerable" meetings, to pitch the value of the merger, according to Syron.

The specter of the Nasdaq-Amex deal, combined with the recent bid by the Amex to acquire the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange

, has options seat owners concerned that the business is beginning a shift to an electronic trading environment, although no significant progress has been made on that front.

Nasdaq Chairman

Frank Zarb

said the merger will not lead to any lowering of listing standards.

The merged organizations will now turn their attention to further integrating their technology and completing the planned acquisition of the Philly exchange.