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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of Proposed Rule Change by the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc., to Extend the Nasdaq International Service Pilot Program

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Start Preamble August 29, 2000.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on August 18, 2000 the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (“NASD” or “Association”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. (“Nasdaq”). The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons and to grant accelerated approval to the proposed rule change.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

The NASD proposes to extend for one year: (1) The term of the Nasdaq International Service (“Service”) pilot program and (2) the effectiveness of certain rules (“International Rules”) that are unique to the Service. The proposed rule change does not entail any modification of the International rules. The present authorization for the Service and the International Rules expires on October 9, 2000. With this filing, the pilot program for the Service and the International Rules would be extended until October 9, 2001.

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, the NASD included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item III below. Nasdaq has prepared summaries, set forth in Sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

The NASD proposes to extend for an additional year, until October 9, 2001, the pilot operation of the Service and the effectiveness of the International Rules governing broker-dealers' access to and use of the Service. The existing pilot operation of the Service and the International Rules was originally authorized by the Commission in October 1991 [3] and the Service was launched on January 20, 1992. The pilot has since been extended and is currently set to expire on October 9, 2000. [4]

The Service supports an early trading session running from 3:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern Time on each U.S. business day (“European Session”) that overlaps the business hours of the London financial markets. Participation in the Service is voluntary and is open to any authorized NASD member firm or its approved broker-dealer affiliate in the U.K. A member participates as a Service market maker either by staffing its trading facilities in the U.S. or the facilities of its approved affiliate during the European Session. The Service also has a variable opening feature that permits Start Printed Page 54096Service market makers to elect to participate starting from 3:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The election is required to be made on a security-by-security basis at the time a firm registers with the NASD as a Service market maker.[5] At present, there are no Service market makers participating in the Service.

As noted above, the NASD is seeking to extend the pilot term for one year. During this period, the NASD will continue to reevaluate the Service's operation and consider possible enhancements to the Service to broaden market-maker participation. The NASD continues to view the Service as a significant experiment in expanding potential opportunities for international trading via systems operated by Nasdaq. Accordingly, the NASD believes that this pilot operation warrants an extension to permit possible enhancements that will increase the Service's utility and attractiveness to the investment community.[6] The NASD maintains its belief that it is extremely important to preserve this facility and the opportunities it provides, especially in light of the increasingly global nature of the securities markets and the trend of cross-border transactions generally.

In addition, the Service still serves an invaluable role as a critical early warning mechanism in the context of significant changes involving Nasdaq software and hardware systems. Specifically, because the Service operates in the early morning hours prior to the opening of trading in the domestic session of Nasdaq, the Service has provided for the early detection of systems or communications problems when Nasdaq implements these systems changes.

2. Statutory Basis

The NASD believes the proposed rule change is consistent with Sections 11A(a)(1)(B) [7] and (C) [8] and 15A(b)(6) [9] of the Act. Subsections (B) and (C) of Section 11A(a)(1) [10] set forth the Congressional goals of achieving more efficient and effective market operations, broader availability of information with respect to quotations for securities, and the execution of investor orders in the best market through the use of advanced data processing and communications techniques. Section 15A(b)(6) [11] requires, among other things, that the NASD rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities. The NASD believes that the proposed extension of the Service and the International Rules is fully consistent with these statutory provisions.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

The NASD believes that the proposed rule change will not result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received from Members, Participants or Others

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Persons making written submissions should file six copies thereof with the Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549-0609. Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying at the Commission's Public Reference Room. Copies of such filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the NASD. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-NASD-00-51 and should be submitted by September 27, 2000.

IV. Commission's Findings and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of Proposed Rule Change

The Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Sections 11A(a)(1)(B) and (C) and 15A(b)(6) of the Act.[12] The Commission believes that, in connection with the globalization of securities markets, the Service provides an opportunity to advance the statutory goals of: (1) Achieving more efficient and effective market operations; (2) broader availability of information with respect to quotations for securities; (3) the execution of investor orders in the best market through the use of advanced data processing and communications techniques; and (4) fostering cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities.

The Commission views the Service as providing potential opportunities for international trading via a system operated by Nasdaq. The Service is intended to promote additional commitments of member firms' capital to market making and to attract commitments from firms based in Europe that currently do not function as Nasdaq market makers. Although there are no Service market makers participating in the Service, the NASD plans to reevaluate the Service's operation and consider possible enhancements to the Service to broaden market maker participation. Additionally, the Service provides an early warning system when Nasdaq implements significant changes involving its hardware and software systems. Because the Service operates before the opening of the domestic session of Nasdaq, the Service allows for the early detection of systems or communication problems. Accordingly, the Commission believes that this pilot operation warrants an extension to permit possible enhancements that will increase the Service's utility and attractiveness to the investment community. Any changes to the operation of the Service will be filed pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act.[13]

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[14] the Commission finds good cause Start Printed Page 54097for approving the proposed rule change prior to the 30th day after the date of publication of notice of filing thereof. The Commission believes that it is appropriate to approve on an accelerated basis the one year extension of the Service, until October 9, 2001, to ensure the continuous operation of the Service, which is set to expire on October 9, 2000.

It is Therefore Ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[15] that the proposed rule change (SR-NASD-00-51) is hereby approved on an accelerated basis.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.16

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 29812 (October 11, 1991), 56 FR 52082 (October 17, 1991).

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4.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 33037 (October 8, 1993), 58 FR 53752 (October 18, 1993) (extending the pilot for two years through October 11, 1995); Securities Exchange Act Release No. 36359 (October 11, 1995), 60 FR 53820 (October 17, 1995) (extending the pilot for two years through October 11, 1997); Securities Exchange Act Release No. 39216 (October 7, 1997), 62 FR 53673 (October 15, 1997) (extending the pilot for one year through October 9, 1998); Securities Exchange Act Release No. 40528 (October 7, 1998), 63 FR 55165 (October 14, 1999) (extending the pilot for one year through October 9, 1998); Securities Exchange Act Release No. 41988 (October 7, 1999), 64 FR 56002 (October 15, 1999) (extending the pilot for one year through October 9, 2000).

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5.  Regardless of the opening time chosen by the Service market maker, the Service market maker is required to fulfill all the obligations of a Service market maker from that time (i.e., either 3:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m. or 7:30 a.m.) until the European Session closes at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 32471 (June 16, 1993), 58 FR 33965 (June 22, 1993) (approval of File No. SR-NASD-92-54).

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6.  Assuming that the pilot term is extended, the NASD will continue to supply the Commission with the statistical reports prescribed in the initial approval order for the Service order at six month intervals.

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7.  15 U.S.C. 78k-1(a)(1)(B).

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8.  15 U.S.C. 78k-1(a)(1)(C).

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12.  In reviewing this proposal, the Commission has considered its potential impact on efficiency, competition and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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13.  15 U.S.D. 78s(b)(2).

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[FR Doc. 00-22718 Filed 9-5-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-M