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May 31, 2003

Baker: Let's Goose the Regulators

By Gregory Bresiger

The long delayed Nasdaq exchange application will probably be delayed some more. Maybe another six months. Maybe another year. Maybe longer. That was the impression of most trading industry participants after speaking to a number of lawmakers and regulators at last month's STA Washington conference.

SEC Commissioner Roel Campos, at a public session, said he wants the application to move faster, but conceded there is no timetable for the application. But the controversial debate over Nasdaq as a for-profit exchange [see special feature], has gone on too long for one lawmaker who said he was going to push the regulators to speed up things.

"Obviously the application has been languishing far too long," said Congressman Richard Baker (R-La), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets. "I don't want to be in the position of instructing someone to make a decision. But at the same time I think I can express concern that timely action just doesn't seem to be the principal concern at this time."

Baker said he wants to ask regulators if the application can be acted on in "a more timely manner." What does that mean? Baker said acting on the application in less than a year or two and finishing it without "upsetting markets." Baker said he doesn't understand why the application hasn't moved faster and he wants it explained to him.