July 1, 2014 / 4:53 PM / 4 years ago

NYSE to run software tests for trading firms ahead of Alibaba IPO

A trader watches his screen just after the opening bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Stock Exchange said it will hold a test run of Alibaba Group Holding’s IPO-ALIB.N highly anticipated market debut, reflecting the securities industry’s focus on risk controls after a raft of technical snafus in recent years.

NYSE, owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N), said in a note to traders on Tuesday it would allow firms to test their trading software ahead of the initial public offering of Alibaba on July 12 for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Chinese e-commerce company’s trading debut this summer could be the largest-ever technology IPO in the U.S., possibly eclipsing Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) $15 billion share sale in May 2012.

Facebook’s trading debut on Nasdaq OMX Group’s (NDAQ.O) exchange was plagued with software problems as massive volumes of orders came in, setting off a chain of events that market-making firms said cost them a combined $500 million.

Nasdaq, which was fined $10 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over the problems, said it would voluntarily compensate firms that had been harmed up to a total of $62 million.

NYSE regularly conducts systems testing during the weekends but it was only last October, ahead of Twitter Inc’s (TWTR.N) market debut, that it opened up for an IPO simulation requested by member firms, many of which participated in Facebook’s IPO.

During the Twitter IPO simulation, NYSE was testing mainly for two things: To see if its systems could handle the amount of message traffic that might be generated by the IPO; and to make sure that once the IPO took place any firms that placed orders would promptly receive the reports telling them that their orders had been executed.

The Facebook incident was one of a number of high-profile technology-related problems that have roiled markets and weighed on investor confidence in recent years, placing a bigger focus on operational risk by regulators and market participants.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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