Sunday, April 24, 2005
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced last Wednesday that it has agreed definitively to merge with Chicago-based Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) and form a new publicly traded, for-profit company known as NYSE Group. This announcement was followed two days later by NASDAQ, which independently announced a definitive agreement to purchase Instinet Group.
Archipelago and Instinet are innovative e-trading (electronic trading) companies, and formerly were the two largest American rivals to NYSE and NASDAQ, in recent years taking increasingly large portions of their market share. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory agencies still have to review and approve the transactions, particularly with respect to US securities law and antitrust law, in order to ensure that the marketplace remains lawful and competitive.
Other pending issues for NASDAQ include obtaining the approval of Instinet shareholders, as well as customary closing conditions. NYSE must obtain the approval of its members and Archipelago shareholders.
These changes, a reaction to increased e-trading competition and a changed regulatory environment, will result in NASDAQ and NYSE trading each other’s shares and attempting to grab market share, which many hope will drive down transaction costs and ultimately benefit consumers. However, at least one commentator, Dan Ackman writing in Forbes, has noted that the trading commission at the NYSE currently averages less than a nickel (US$0.05) per share, and was less enthusiastic about potential efficiency gains from electronic trading at the exchange.
The transactions are also intended to make the two leading American stock exchanges more globally competitive with such exchanges as the London Stock Exchange, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the Australian Stock Exchange located in Sydney.