TMCnet Feature
June 21, 2012

Congress May Act in Wake of Facebook IPO

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The mess Facebook (News - Alert) had with its IPO – and its continuing impact on markets and the apparent hesitancy by other companies to move ahead with their public offerings – is getting some in Congress to push for sweeping reforms and stricter regulation.

Facebook saw its May 18 IPO delayed by 30 minutes because of a “technical glitch” and confirmations of opening orders were delayed by two hours. Some orders were just plain lost, according to media reports. In fact, total losses among market makers could reach as much as $450 million.

In addition, New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) CEO Duncan Niederauer claims that market confidence was hurt by the Facebook IPO.

In recent testimony before Congress, Niederauer joined with 10 other heads of exchanges and investment firms to push for increasing trading increments of emerging growth companies and increase liquidity.

In his recent testimony before Congress, Kevin Cronin, global head of Equity Trading at Invesco, noted both glitches during the Facebook IPO and the “flash crash" in 2010, when an estimated one trillion dollars in shareholder equity was temporarily eliminated in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq has suggested a $40 million remedy for those hurt by the Facebook IPO. Clients would get $13.7 million in cash with the balance coming as trading rebates.

In addition, Dan Mathisson, managing director at Credit Suisse Securities LLC, testified before Congress that caps on liabilities at exchanges should be removed. He wants to see exchanges held responsible for technology glitches like Nasdaq’s experiences with the Facebook IPO, according to

"We believe that providers of trading technology will naturally exercise greater caution if they have material liability when their technology fails," he testified. "Restoring exchanges' moral hazard would be an important step towards creating a more reliable marketplace."

“We believe the best way to reduce the chances of similar technology problems from occurring in the future is to remove protections which grant exchanges ‘absolute immunity’ from liability,” he added.

William O’Brien, a former Nasdaq executive who is now CEO at Direct Edge Holdings, recommends improved coordination between trading sites when technical glitches occur, according to Blooomberg Businessweek.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC (News - Alert)), meanwhile, may want to track orders, messages and trades as part of new reforms. There could also be new fees on high-frequency traders and a rule to prevent U.S. venues and wholesale market makers “from executing an incoming order unless they were already publicly displaying the best bid or offer in a particular stock,” Reuters (News - Alert) said.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a recent letter to the SEC urging possible reforms to the laws which govern IPOs.

Meanwhile, Nasdaq faces several lawsuits because of the technology glitch during the Facebook IPO. The organization could find itself getting sued by Morgan Stanley for "reputational damage" connected with the IPO, according to TMCnet.

In addition, class action lawsuits by investors are also likely. It was recently reported that over 40 lawsuits were filed in either state or federal court since Facebook’s IPO, according to CNNMoney.

In testimony this week, there were also complaints that large institutional investors had more access to information on Facebook’s prospects than retail investors before the IPO.

Meanwhile, there has been some speculation that Facebook could leave the Nasdaq for the NYSE.

The Independent newspaper claims Facebook is “furious” about technical problems the stock faced during the May IPO.

In a related matter, Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at IPO Boutique, claims there were 14 IPOs withdrawn or postponed since the Facebook IPO.

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Edited by Braden Becker
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