NEW YORK (
-- There was some discussion earlier this week that
could look to bolt from the
exchange in the aftermath of its messy public debut last Friday.
The social networking giant was said to be talking to
about a jump to the Big Board, a move that would be highly unusual as it would mean breaking a contract that typically ends at the close of the year. Most transfers take place in December.
The fact that the reports even surfaced though brings back up the debate about which exchange is tops these days.
Both the NYSE and Nasdaq courted Facebook heavily. Facebook chose Nasdaq for a variety of excellent reasons, among them: A reputation for advanced technology and its formidable flashing presence in Times Square -- the heart of commercial New York -- a clear message when a company wants to reach out in a big way to the retail masses.
Nasdaq promoted its technology throughout the process of courtship, its marketers touting the fact the exchange had invented electronic trading 40 years ago and ithat ts computer hub could transmit (theoretically) more than 1 million messages per second at sub-100 microsecond average speeds.
The NYSE, on the other hand, was depicted as an outdated system with its fundamental trade operations linked to fallible humans.
But that ancient system, its roots go back to 1792, has been proven to have some stamina, even in its computer support systems.
"NYSE's technology offering and focus is quite different from Nasdaq's," which is primarily an exchange solution business," said analyst Jillian Miller of BMO Capital. "The NYX's offering is targeted at connectivity for buy and sell side institutions rather than providing an 'exchange in a box' for small exchange groups."
It is this difference that would have helped in the large and complicated Facebook offering.
While NYSE has a solid computing foundation, it still relies on humans within the network to make key decisions.
"It's exactly this human connection that ensures the strength of the NYSE," said Ken Polcari of ICAP Equities, an NYSE member firm. "We create orderly openings and closes, we have lower volatility, we have deeper/more liquid markets that in the end improve prices for all investors. We do not hide in a dark pool, we are in fact the most transparent, visible marketplace in the world."
Humans count, even in the most high-tech of IPOs. In the case of Facebook, Nasdaq unforgivably failed to keep the public apprised of its trading delays. Over at the NYSE, in the case of an IPO, if trading isn't being executed well, then one human walks over to another human on the floor of the exchange and begins to yell. That usually gets the message across.
And while the NYSE may not have won the Facebook account, it appears to be winning the IPO wars.
NASDAQ launched 78 new companies and delivered some of the most heavily buzzed about deals of the year including
. Thirteen companies switched from NYSE to NASDAQ in 2011, bringing $82 billion in market value with them. Texas Instruments and Viacom were the biggest companies to make the move.
After the Facebook disaster, Nasdaq made a point on Monday of announcing that
was switching from the NYSE to the Nasdaq. The exchange also noted that "the market value of NYSE companies switching to NASDAQ
is at $54,895.5M in 2012 (whereas the reverse is less)."
This bit of communication was widely disseminated, which begs the question: Where was this openness on Friday when the Nasdaq offered up radio silence? The only communication we had were the memos the exchange sent to the brokerages because the brokerages were sharing them.
But compare the Nasdaq's numbers to New York Stock Exchange roster of 104 IPOs in 2011 including big names like
, and the Big Board comes out ahead. Also, last year the NYSE snatched 16 companies from the Nasdaq with a total of $30 billion in market cap.
The week of the Facebook launch, the NYSE rolled out the Century Club touting companies that had traded for 100 years. This was no coincidence.
"We have done this now for 220 years," said Polcari, "We've maintained that steadfast commitment to a stronger, more orderly financial marketplace and we intend to keep that tradition going for the next 200 years."
Give me humans and a long track record of experience any time over a set of computers that sometimes hiccup.
Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.
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