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Nasdaq Sheds Units, Cuts Jobs

Th exchange looks to focus on its core U.S. operations.


Nasdaq Stock Market


is shedding its poorly performing businesses and slashing jobs in an effort to focus on its core U.S. operations.

The changes mainly will affect European and technology-related businesses, and will result in the loss of about 80 jobs, according to a statement released by the company on Thursday. The changes are among the first ones brought about by Nasdaq's new President and Chief Executive, Robert Greifeld, who joined the organization in May.

"Our mission is to focus first on being the predominant U.S. equities market," Greifeld said in a statement.

At a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, shareholders reached a near-unanimous decision to close Nasdaq Europe, the pan-European market in Belgium in which Nasdaq holds a majority stake. The company will seek approval from Belgian regulators before winding down the market's operations and helping to find another market for its 35 stock listings. It plans to close no later than Jan. 5.

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Greifeld also said Thursday that he is reviewing the company's involvement in Nasdaq Deutschland, the German joint venture it launched last year with the Berlin Exchange to take on Frankfurt's Deutsche Boerse, according to media reports.

In other moves, the Nasdaq will discontinue its Bulletin Board Exchange, a proposed listing platform for companies not eligible for listing on the Nasdaq Small-Cap Market. The Over the Counter Bulletin Board will continue its existing operations.

It will forego its stake in the NQLX, a joint venture with the London International Financial Futures Exchange to create a market for single stock futures and other futures products, and instead transfer its ownership interest to LIFFE, which will assume financial and management responsibility for the business. This change isn't expected to have any impact on the operation of NQLX.

Also, the exchange, which is the second-largest stock market in the U.S., will end its Liquidity Tracker, an automated-order routing system, and its Nasdaq Tools product, an order-management system.

In October of 2002, Nasdaq pulled out of Nasdaq Japan, a trading venture with the Osaka Stock Exchange.

Going forward, Greifeld, who replaced Hardwick Simmons after his retirement, plans to focus on capturing a greater share of IPOs, increasing trading volumes and attracting listings from other exchanges.

Greifeld also told reporters during a conference call that the company no longer plans to conduct a formal IPO of shares. In April 2001, Nasdaq said it would become a publicly traded company, but a formal IPO was repeatedly delayed. Now, it plans to sell more shares of its stock that is currently traded in the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board market, according to media reports.

Shares of Nasdaq trading on the OTCBB rose on Thursday morning by 0.7%, or 5 cents, to $7.15.