In a major blow to the struggling American Stock Exchange, Barclays Global Investors said it would shift the primary listings of its 81 iShares exchange-traded funds to the

New York Stock Exchange

.

BGI says 61 ETFs will move to the NYSE, while 19 iShares Funds and one grantor trust will jump to the NYSE's planned merger partner, Archipelago. The move is expected to take place in several phases concluding in 2007.

No action is needed by current shareholders. ETFs are index funds whose shares may be bought and sold like common stocks on securities exchanges. The Amex has increasingly focused on attracting listings like the iShares since its primary stock-listing business was sharply eroded by the Nasdaq. Late last year the Amex lost its popular Nasdaq 100 trust listing, which was then known as the QQQ and is now called the QQQQ after its Nasdaq symbol.

"The decision to move the funds follows a yearlong, comprehensive review of the exchanges, during which BGI concluded that the NYSE and ArcaEx have unique attributes and a demonstrated commitment to building the technology and infrastructure that will facilitate trading of iShares products in the future and support the growing iShares business," said Lee Kranefuss, CEO of BGI's Intermediary Business.

BGI's U.S. ETF business has grown from $2 billion in assets with 17 funds when it launched the iShares brand in 2000 to $140 billion with 99 iShares products today.

"We're pleased to strengthen our partnership with the NYSE, which already successfully lists 16 iShares Funds, and to forge a new partnership with ArcaEx, which currently trades approximately 30% of ETF shares traded," Kranefuss added. "Both exchanges will dedicate the new resources required to support this new business."

The Amex took the decision in stride. "The Amex has never been just a listing venue for ETFs, it has always been known as the premier breeding ground for innovation and intellectual capital in the ETF industry," said Cliff Weber, senior vice president of the Amex's ETF marketplace. "We wish BGI well in their efforts."