The Chicago Board Options Exchange, one of the last big exchanges in private hands, is looking to become more shareholder friendly. The CBOE is planning to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating its plans to "demutualize" -- that is, to change from a membership organization to one governed by shareholders. The CBOE says the registration should be filed within the next two weeks. The news about the CBOE's potential plans for an IPO comes on the same day that the American Stock Exchange took a similar step toward an initial public offering. The CBOE is currently a mutually owned membership organization. In order to sell shares, the exchange will become a subsidiary of a new holding company, CBOE Holdings. CBOE memberships will be converted into shares of the new company. Goldman Sachs is advising the exchange on the process. One thing that could delay the 33-year-old options exchange from going public is ongoing lawsuit with CBOT Holdings ( BOT), the parent of the Chicago Board of Trade and the creator of the CBOE. The two exchanges are disagreeing over certain exercise rights that the CBOT holds and how the rights will be valued when the CBOE's demutualization process is complete. The 158-year-old CBOT, which is in the process of being acquired by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange ( CME), filed a lawsuit last summer so that the CBOE could not limit CBOT members' participation as the exchange went through a demutualization process.
The CBOE submitted a request in December asking that, upon completion of the sale of the CBOT to the CME, the exercise rights be terminated. But the CBOT fired back earlier this month that the CBOE should not be allowed to issue any stock to members without allowing exercise right holders to participate in that distribution. It is also looking for the court to find that the CBOE "breached its charter" with the CBOT. A CBOE spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit. A CBOT spokesman was not immediately available. Earlier in the day the Amex announced that it had hired Morgan Stanley ( MS) to begin the process of demutualization, setting the stage for a possible IPO or other "potential strategic future initiatives."