BlackRock-backed TXSE Group to launch Texas Stock Exchange to counter NY rivals

BlackRock-backed TXSE Group to launch Texas Stock Exchange to counter NY rivals

FILE PHOTO: The BlackRock logo is seen outside of its offices in New York City, U.S., October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

TXSE Group, backed by BlackRock and Citadel Securities, plans to launch the Texas Stock Exchange in Dallas, going up against established New York-centric exchanges in a bid to attract global companies.

The exchange, which has raised about $120 million, plans to file registration documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to start operating as a national securities exchange later this year, TXSE said on Wednesday.

A rebound in capital markets has sent a plethora of companies from within and outside the United States scrambling to list their stocks, creating more opportunity for indexes.

But carving a space could be difficult for a new exchange in the lucrative U.S. listings market, where the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq have dominated in a virtual duopoly since the 2000s.

“Competition is always good and this is not competition to be taken lightly,” said JJ Kinahan, CEO of IG North America and president of online broker Tastytrade. “That said, a lot of other players have tried it and it’s hard to open an exchange at the end of the day.”

Major regional stock exchanges including the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, the Boston Stock Exchange, and the Chicago Stock Exchange merged into either the Nasdaq or the NYSE after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission introduced laws that gave preference to automated trading platforms.

“It is difficult to take meaningful market shares from incumbents for trading and listing,” said Owen Lau, senior analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.

“Some other exchanges had tried it but most of them failed to achieve what they had initially hoped for,” he said.

Trading volumes, a key measure of the strength of exchanges, have also been concentrated between the two industry giants, making it difficult for exchanges with low-volume activity to draw big orders from traders.

But changes in equities trading markets, such as a shift in listing standards and associated costs, are driving more volumes to exchanges and creating more choices for issuers and sponsors, said James Lee, founder and CEO of TXSE Group.

Corporate issuers and exchange-traded product sponsors are demanding more stability and predictability around listing standards and associated costs, the company said.

The Texas Stock Exchange aims to attract listings of exchange-traded products and challenge increasing compliance costs at major U.S. indexes, as well as newer rules including setting targets for board diversity at the Nasdaq, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

TXSE will ultimately create more competition around quote activity, liquidity and transparency, resulting in more consistent and reliable markets,” Lee added.

Texas has been at the forefront of politically “red” or conservative states that restricted their public pension funds from doing business with BlackRock and other Wall Street firms that have embraced environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.

With the growing prominence of sustainable investing, existing exchange operators have increased their focus on ESG business opportunities and are increasingly rolling out new initiatives.

BlackRock has had a complicated relationship with the officials of Republican-leaning Texas in recent years.

The company, a major investor in oil companies such as Exxon XOM.N and which has rejected calls to divest fossil-fuel holdings, faces accusations of “boycotting” certain industries due to its call for wider emission disclosures from its portfolio companies.

In February, CEO Larry Fink appeared with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick at an event in Houston to stoke infrastructure investments. But the next month, a state fund withdrew $8.5 billion from BlackRock‘s management, citing the company’s energy policies.

BlackRock is proud to be a founding investor in the Texas Stock Exchange to increase liquidity and improve market efficiency for clients and other investors in the U.S. capital markets,” a company spokesperson said.

Prior to the Texas Stock Exchange, Citadel Securities has backed some exchanges focused on different assets such as Members Exchange in equities and options, FMX Futures Exchange and EDX Markets in crypto.


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