As expected, the National Assn. of Securities Dealers' board on Thursday authorized its staff to step up preparations for converting the Nasdaq Stock Market into a publicly traded company.
While a major reason for such a move would be to raise needed capital to advance trading technologies, NASD Chairman Frank Zarb also said a public ownership structure would allow Nasdaq "to make decisions more quickly in an increasingly competitive environment that values speed."
While the board didn't give final approval to going public, it appointed a committee headed by Robert Glauber, a former Treasury undersecretary, to begin crafting formulas for selling stock in Nasdaq first to member brokerages and listed companies, Zarb said.
A public stock offering could follow, probably in 2000.
The NASD also approved a plan to seek partnerships with large technology firms to help the market "move more quickly to a low-cost, Internet-based technology platform," the organization said.
In another controversial move, the NASD forwarded to the Securities and Exchange Commission a proposal to require Nasdaq dealers to display a list of the most competitive stock quotes either from themselves or from rival electronic trading networks known as ECNs.
The idea of a central Nasdaq "book" for all orders is opposed by some dealers who want to be able to execute "limit" orders themselves at the best market price, rather than allow the orders to go to a competing dealer or be matched with another investor via an ECN.