Updated from Dec. 7
A storm is brewing between the
New York Board of Trade
and some of its members.
Some NYBOT members are suing the exchange over being left out of its impending $1.2 billion sale to the red-hot
NYBOT counters that says the upset members have no right to vote on the deal because they don't have an equity stake in the 136-year-old exchange.
Investors in the ICE, meanwhile, don't seem to concerned about the legal dust-up. Shares of ICE were rising $1.91, to $106.75 on Friday.
The lawsuit was filed late Thursday in New York State Supreme Court by a self-described "substantial group" of members, who claim to hold permits to trade certain futures and options at the NYBOT.
The members are upset that they will "receive nothing, even though their NYBOT rights and interests are included in the proposed sale," according to a press release from the group's attorney. The members also say they have not been included in the voting process for the approval of the buyout.
The ICE announced in September that it planned to purchase the NYBOT for $1.2 billion. An ICE spokesman said the exchange was unaware of the lawsuit. NYBOT members are slated to vote on the merger on Monday.
The NYBOT is a futures and options market for agricultural commodities including cocoa, coffee, cotton, frozen concentrated orange juice, and sugar.
"Essentially we represent a substantial group that makes a living down on the floor trading," says David Bernfeld, of Bernfeld, DeMatteo & Bernfeld, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. "We must already have somewhere between 10% and 15% of the outstanding permits, and we expect that with the filing there will be a flurry of additional activity."
While NYBOT would not comment because it had not yet received the complaint, "we can confirm that NYBOT carefully considered the rights of permit holders throughout the transaction," it said in a statement.
Under the exchange's bylaws permit holders "do not own equity in the exchange, have no right to vote, and have no right to receive any distributions of cash or property, whether upon liquidation, merger or otherwise," NYBOT says.
The exchange does not believe that the suit will delay its closing of the deal.