president & ceo, the nasdaq stock market, inc.
NASDAQ Chief Going Shopping
Look out Europe - Nasdaq chief executive Robert Greifeld was in town yesterday, and told the Hub's business elite he is still planning to take over rival stock markets around the world.
Recent speculation has put the London and Stockholm exchanges in Nasdaq's cross hairs. "There are limits to what I can say with regard to the London Stock Exchange," Greifeld said, "but I can make the general statement that there is coming consolidation of capital markets and this coming consolidation will be a marathon and not a sprint."
Underlining his point, Greifeld devoted a substantial part of his talk to explaining the business rationale for cross-border stock exchange mergers.
It must have made sweet listening for Fidelity honcho Ned Johnson, who made a rare public appearance to attend the event and sat at the same table during lunch as Greifeld.
Johnson's Fidelity Investments owns 1 percent of the London stock market, and recently upped its stake dramatically in Stockholm to become the fifth biggest investor there.
Both share prices have boomed on hopes of a take-over by Nasdaq.
Keep an eye on whether Fidelity now decides to buy more shares in overseas exchanges following the lunch.
Nasdaq already owns 25 percent of London. It was rebuffed in an initial bid earlier this year. Local rules say it had to wait until this summer to try again.
London is by far Europe's biggest market, and would be a great platform for Nasdaq's ambitions elsewhere on that continent.
It is more than possible that within a generation Nasdaq will effectively be the world's stock market.
Greifeld also said he expects Congress to reform the much-criticized Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law next year. "Down in Washington, it's one of the few items that has broad support on both sides of the aisle," he said.
Greifeld wants the rules lightened for smaller companies, which have been hit particularly hard by the compliance costs.
In an unrelated announcement, an influential committee of executives and academics supported by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson yesterday unveiled proposals to reform Sarbanes-Oxley. They also want to limit class-action suits against U.S. companies.
Greifeld was speaking to the first lunch of the new season at the Boston College Chief Executives' Club. Guests ranged from Federal Reserve president Cathy Minehan to Mintz Levin chairman Bob Popeo. They included Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy and her husband Sean, who runs local fund-management company AMG and who introduced the speaker.
Apparently his wife's gubernatorial campaign is keeping them both busy. "Kerry, it's nice to see you," Sean joked from the podium.
Article by Brett Arends
Wednesday, September 13, 2006