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Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. chief executive Robert Greifeld said Monday that the new regulatory regime created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is discouraging European companies from listing in the United States. Listings from Asia remain strong, however, he said. “Our flow of listings from Europe has essentially dried up,” Greifeld told a gathering of corporate directors in Washington, but he added that in “Asia there’s been no regulatory impact from Sarbanes-Oxley and listings are “incredibly strong.” There’s been a “bifurcated response to our changing regulatory environment,” Greifeld told the National Association of Corporate Directors, but he predicted good regulation and sound business practices will bring listings back. This year Nasdaq has listed six Chinese companies, among 13 international listings overall, he noted. Greifeld also expects regulators to approve the market’s application to become a full-fledged stock exchange before the end of the year. Earlier this month the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed granting exchange status to Nasdaq, and the commission is currently seeking public comment on the application through Nov. 10. “We think our exchange application will be approved,” Greifeld told reporters after his speech to the NACD. He said he expects SEC approval to come by Christmas, but added that a number of internal housekeeping requirements will put off the changeover until early in 2006. Once it becomes an exchange, Nasdaq won’t change its name and will keep the NASD as its regulator, but it will sever other ties with the NASD, Greifeld said. Status as a full-blown exchange will allow Nasdaq to finally gain independence from its parent, the NASD, formerly the National Association of Securities Dealers, and give it more flexibility in competing with rival New York Stock Exchange. In fact, Greifeld told the corporate directors they should justify their decisions to list on one platform or another and suggested they review that decision periodically. Greifeld said he’s particularly “mystified” by discrepancies in listing fees. He noted that Microsoft Corp. pays $75,000 per year to list its stock on Nasdaq while General Electric Co. pays $500,000 a year to list on the NYSE. “Make sure you are choosing the right market for all the right reasons,” he said. Regarding Nasdaq’s plan to acquire Instinet Holdings Inc., a unit of Reuters plc, Greifeld said Nasdaq is in “substantial conformance” with the second request from antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice. “We await feedback from them,” he added. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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