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June 30, 2003

Nasdaq Cries Foul Over Exchange Petition

By Gregory Bresiger

Nasdaq is working at a disadvantage- it is operating under a regulatory structure that dates back to the 1930s. And it is still part of a regulatory organization even though it is going to become a for-profit exchange, according to Nasdaq chairman Robert Greifeld. That's why the Securities and Exchange Commission should act on its pending exchange application petition, he said.

In some of his early public comments - made at a Securities Industry Association conference in New York City - Greifeld said: "We do not believe that good governance is having a regulator who has an interest in the money center it regulates." The National Association of Securities Dealers remains Nasdaq's parent until the SEC approves its petition. However, both Nasdaq and the NASD have separate boards. Greifeld underlined Nasdaq's frustration with the pending application when he took a question from Lanny Schwartz, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange's general counsel. Schwartz asked why governance is so vital.

"It's all about governance," Greifeld responded. "I want to run Nasdaq to be a for-profit entity... We have to answer to shareholders." One possible sticking point is that the SEC requires an exchange to have a central limit order book. But that is "inconsistent with the Nasdaq model in which each dealer can interact with order flow without a central limit order book," said Annette Nazareth, director of the SEC's Division of Market Regulation, who spoke at the same market structure conference. -with Nina Mehta