Exclusive: IEX eyes stock exchange status

Sat Apr 5, 2014 6:11am EDT
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By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The upstart stock trading venue featured in Michael Lewis' book "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt," may apply to become a fully registered stock exchange sooner than planned, IEX Group Inc's chief executive said on Friday.

"Flash Boys" hit the stands on Monday and unleashed a fierce debate over the fairness of the U.S. stock market, which the book characterized as rigged in favor of high-speed traders who use their advantages to bilk the system for billions.

The book also thrust IEX, and its CEO, Brad Katsuyama, former head of electronic trading at a unit of Royal Bank of Canada, in New York, into the spotlight.

"We've been getting interest from corporate clients about listings and I think that definitely increases our interest in looking at becoming an exchange earlier than thought," Katsuyama said in an interview. He would not specify a time frame.

IEX is currently registered as an Alternative Trading System (ATS), or what is commonly called a "dark pool."

Dark pools are more lightly regulated than public stock exchanges, allowing them to pick who gets to trade inside of them. Investors remain anonymous, stock orders are not displayed, and the rules can be kept secret.

IEX does not quite fit that mould. It offers all brokers access, its subscribers are listed on its website, and out of 45 active ATSs, it is the only one to make its rules public.

The company has said it planned to become an exchange once it hits 5 percent of U.S. stock volume, which would make it more financially viable to take on the costs of the additional regulatory burden of being an exchange.   Continued...

Author Michael Lewis smiles during an interview at Reuters regarding his book about high-frequency trading (HFT) named "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt," in New York April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson