Nasdaq could spend a year on NYSE fight

NASDAQ OMX chief executive Robert Greifeld said he was willing to fight for a year to gain his prize of a merger with the NYSE Euronext yesterday.

Speaking at Nasdaq OMX’s first-quarter results, Greifeld said it and partner IntercontinentalExchange would pursue their bid, a rival to NYSE Euronext’s planned tie-up with Deutsche Boerse, to the “endgame”.

He said the two exchanges hoped to add to the current offer – sweetened on Tuesday by an additional $350m (£215m) break fee and the promise of cash to shareholders immediately – to make it “fully reflective” of NYSE Euronext’s value.

“We are keenly aware that we were uninvited,” Greifeld said on the group’s results call. “But that has the ability to change as we put things on the table that obviously are attractive to shareholders [and that] will also be attractive to the NYSE board.”

Greifeld said he would continue to try to convince NYSE shareholders of the benefits of the unsolicited bid.

Investors were primarily concerned that the deal could be blocked by competition regulators as it would give the combined entity about 52 per cent of the entire US equities market, he said. Nasdaq has given “reams of data” about the plan to the US Justice Department and he added that he had already held two face-to-face meetings with officials at the department.

Nasdaq’s results showed it had shrugged off the costs of the merger bid to date to deliver record net profit per share. It rose 42 per cent to $0.61 from the $0.43 generated in first-quarter 2010. Group revenues rose 15 per cent to $415m, from $360m in 2010, despite gaining only a 19 per cent share of the US equities market between its three platforms.

The group squeezed higher profits from its cash equities business, driving net revenues to $62m from $55m in 2010 despite seeing shares traded in the quarter fall to 94.8bn, from 126.2bn in 2010.

Derivatives trading also proved lucrative, with the business yesterday reporting a 31 per cent rise in trading revenues to $80m, from $61m in 2010.