Aiming to avoid chaos, NYSE runs Twitter IPO test

Aiming to avoid chaos, NYSE runs Twitter IPO test
A man walks past a Twitter banner while leaving JP Morgan headquarters, before Twitter's IPO in New York October 25, 2013.

NEW YORK - The New York Stock Exchange on Saturday did a test run of Twitter's highly anticipated market debut, as it seeks to avoid the types of problems that plagued Facebook's initial public offering on rival Nasdaq.

The Big Board, run by NYSE Euronext, regularly does systems testing on the weekends, but this was the first time it had run a simulated IPO, and it did so at the request of its member firms - many of whom took part in Facebook's 2012 IPO on Nasdaq OMX Group's main exchange.

The NYSE was testing mainly for two things: To see if its systems could handle the amount of message traffic that might be generated by the IPO; and to make sure that once the IPO took place any firms that placed orders would promptly receive the reports telling them that their orders had been executed.

It can also be seen as part of NYSE's struggle with Nasdaq for supremacy in technology listings. Both exchanges vied to be home to Twitter's stock, and many analysts said the trading disruptions that occurred on Facebook's Nasdaq debut likely played to NYSE's favour, as it tries to become the destination of choice for technology listings, something Nasdaq once dominated.

Twitter, which intends to sell 70 million shares at between $17 and $20 each, will be holding the biggest Internet IPO since Facebook, which sold a much larger 421 million shares at $38 each. Twitter is expected to start trading as early as November 7.

In the case of Facebook, the tremendous volume of orders on the first day of trading exposed a glitch in Nasdaq's system, ultimately preventing timely order confirmations for many traders, leaving them unsure about their exposure for hours, and in some cases for days afterwards. Major market makers estimated they lost collectively up to $500 million in the IPO.

The absence of Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld while the meltdown was occurring magnified the criticism toward the exchange - he had been celebrating the debut at Facebook's California headquarters before jumping on a plane back to New York.

Nasdaq was fined $10 million by the US Securities and Exchange Commission - the largest fine ever for an exchange - and said it would voluntarily pay up to $62 million to compensate firms that had been harmed. On Friday, Nasdaq said $41.6 million of claims put forward qualified for the compensation plan.

The chaotic debut also contributed to a decline in Facebook's stock. The stock hit a low of $17.55 in August, though it has since more than recovered the losses, closing on Friday at $51.95, well above its IPO price.

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