Nasdaq To Buy Back Shares

Nasdaq OMX Group announced Wednesday its board of directors has approved a share repurchase program of up to $300 million, getting the exchange company in on the stock buyback trend that has been sweeping corporate America.

The Nasdaq repurchases will be funded from existing cash balances. The program does not obligate the company to acquire any particular amount of stock, and the share repurchases may be suspended or discontinued at any time.

"This share repurchase authorization reflects our previously stated commitment to return excess capital to our shareholders," said Lee Shavel, Nasdaq’s chief financial officer. "We expect to continue to deliver strong returns to shareholders."

Last month, Berkshire Hathaway announced it would engage in its own buyback plan, a first for the investment company. Exxon Mobil, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, JP Morgan Chase and ConocoPhillips have all spent billions on share buybacks in recent months.

Buybacks have been on the rise since 2010. Last year, stock buybacks by S&P 500 companies increased 117 percent to $299 billion, up from $138 billion in 2009.

Nasdaq said it will also be paying down its debt, making a $109 million debt prepayment in fourth quarter in addition to its $11 million mandatory quarterly payment.