Skip to Content

Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; NASDAQ OMX BX, Inc. and NASDAQ OMX PHLX, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Changes Amending the By-Laws of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., Their Parent Company

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble July 21, 2009.

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 July 16, 2009, NASDAQ OMX BX, Inc. (“BX”) and NASDAQ OMX PHLX, Inc. (“Phlx”) (collectively, the “NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) the proposed rule changes as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been substantially prepared by the NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule changes from interested persons.

I. Self-Regulatory Organizations' Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Changes

The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries are filing these proposed rule changes with regard to proposed changes to the By-Laws of their parent corporation, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (“NASDAQ OMX”). The proposed rule changes will be implemented as soon as practicable following submission of these filings. The text of the proposed rule changes is available at http://nasdaqomxbx.cchwallstreet.com and http://nasdaqomxphlx.cchwallstreet.com/​nasdaqomxphlx/​phlx, respectively, and at the respective NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiary's principal office, and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.

II. Self-Regulatory Organizations' Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Changes

In their filings with the Commission, each of the NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for its proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on its proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the Start Printed Page 37278places specified in Item IV below. Each of the NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries has prepared summaries, set forth in Sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organizations' Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Changes

1. Purpose

NASDAQ OMX has proposed making certain amendments to its By-Laws to make improvements in its governance and update several provisions. In SR-NASDAQ-2009-039, The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (the “NASDAQ Exchange”) sought Commission approval to adopt these By-Law changes as part of the rules of the NASDAQ Exchange, and the Commission granted approval to these changes in an order dated June 26, 2009.[3] The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries are now submitting these filings on an immediately effective basis to adopt the same By-Law changes as rules of each Exchange.

The proposed changes to the By-Laws are as follows:

  • Article I is being amended to reflect the recent name changes of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and the Boston Stock Exchange to NASDAQ OMX Phlx, Inc. and NASDAQ OMX BX, Inc., respectively.
  • Article III is being amended to modify the procedures governing proposals by stockholders, including proposals by stockholders to nominate directors. Specifically, the amendment will require a stockholder making a proposal to supply more complete information about the stockholder's background, including a description of any agreement, arrangement, or understanding between the stockholder, the beneficial owner of the stock, and any other persons acting in concert with them; a description of any agreement, arrangement or understanding (including any derivative or short positions, profit interests, options, warrants, convertible securities, stock appreciation or similar rights, hedging transactions, and borrowed or loaned shares), the effect or intent of which is to mitigate loss to, manage risk or benefit of share price changes for, or increase or decrease the voting power of, such stockholder or such beneficial owner, with respect to shares of stock of NASDAQ OMX; and any other information regarding the stockholder and beneficial owner that would be required to be disclosed in a proxy statement under Section 14(a) of the Act. These changes are designed to provide the NASDAQ OMX Board of Directors and its stockholders with greater insight into the identity and intentions of persons presenting stockholder proposals to allow more thorough consideration of the merits of such proposals. These requirements are deemed satisfied, however, in the case of a proposal that is validly submitted under the rules and regulations promulgated under the Act (i.e., SEC Rule 14a-8) and included in NASDAQ OMX's proxy. However, compliance with the By-Laws or with SEC Rule 14a-8 provides the exclusive means for stockholders to make proposals. The amendments also provide that a representative of a stockholder qualified to appear at an annual meeting must be an officer, manager or partner of the stockholder or must have written authorization from the stockholder. The amendments also make several minor clarifying changes to the text of Article III.
  • Article IV is being amended to state explicitly that the Management Compensation Committee and the Audit Committee must be composed exclusively of independent directors within the meaning of the rules of the NASDAQ Stock Market that govern NASDAQ OMX's listing (and, in the case of the Audit Committee, Section 10A of the Act).[4] Although NASDAQ OMX adheres scrupulously to the independence requirements imposed by the NASDAQ Stock Market and the Act, it believes that these requirements should be explicitly stated in the By-Laws as well. NASDAQ OMX is also removing language making its Chief Executive Officer an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Management Compensation Committee. In this regard, listing standards of the NASDAQ Stock Market require management compensation determinations regarding executive officers to be made by vote of the Board's independent directors, or by vote of or upon the recommendation of a committee composed solely of independent directors.[5] NASDAQ OMX has satisfied this requirement by submitting compensation decisions to the vote of all of NASDAQ OMX's independent directors, but removing the Chief Executive Officer as an ex-officio director will provide it with flexibility to act upon the vote or upon the recommendation of the committee.
  • Currently, NASDAQ OMX's Nominating Committee is required to be composed of persons who are not directors or who are directors not standing for re-election. This compositional requirement, which NASDAQ OMX's predecessor, The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc., originally adopted while it was a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of Securities Dealers (“NASD”), is highly unusual for a public company such as NASDAQ OMX. In light of NASDAQ OMX's continued evolution into a public company with global operations, NASDAQ OMX believes that it is appropriate to adopt a standard nominating committee structure in which the committee is composed exclusively of independent directors. Under the amended by-law, the nominating committee shall consist of four or five directors, each of whom shall be an independent director within the meaning the rules of the NASDAQ Exchange. In addition, the number of Non-Industry Directors (i.e., Directors without material ties to the securities industry) must equal or exceed the number of Industry Directors, and at least two members of the committee must be Public Directors (i.e., directors who have no material business relationship with a broker or dealer, NASDAQ OMX or its affiliates, or FINRA).
  • Article VIII is being amended to provide that NASDAQ OMX shall provide indemnification against liability, advancement of expenses, and the power to purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of persons serving as a director, officer, or employee of any wholly owned subsidiary of NASDAQ OMX to the same extent as indemnification, advancement of expenses, and the power to maintain insurance is provided for directors, officers, or employees of NASDAQ OMX. Thus, for example, a director of one of NASDAQ OMX's US or Nordic exchanges would be entitled to indemnification (and advancement of expenses) by NASDAQ OMX if made a party to a lawsuit to the same extent as a director of NASDAQ OMX. Similarly, the discretionary authority of NASDAQ OMX under Section 8.1(c) of the By-Laws to provide indemnification to persons serving as an agent of NASDAQ OMX is being extended to persons serving as an agent of any wholly owned Start Printed Page 37279subsidiary of NASDAQ OMX. Article VIII is also amended to clarify that any repeal, modification or amendment of, or adoption of any provision inconsistent with, the indemnification and advancement of expenses provided for in Article VIII will not adversely affect the right of any person covered by the provision if the act or omission that any proceeding arises out of or is related to had occurred prior to the time for the repeal, amendment, adoption or modification.
  • Article IX is being amended to modernize the language of the provisions dealing with capital stock to reflect possible participation in the Direct Registration System (the “DRS”). The DRS provides for the electronic registration of eligible securities in an investor's name on the books of the transfer agent or corporation, eliminating the need for physical stock certificates or shares held in book-entry form by the beneficial owner's broker. Although under the Delaware General Corporation Law, NASDAQ OMX can authorize participation in the program through a resolution, the various amendments to Article IX track more closely the language of Section 158 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, as recently revised, to explicitly reference the possibility of capital stock in uncertificated form. The amendments, however, do not require NASDAQ OMX to participate in the DRS or to eliminate stock certificates.
  • Article XII is being amended to conform certain of its provisions more closely to corresponding provisions in the Amended and Restated By-Laws of NYSE Euronext (the “NYSE Euronext By-Laws”). Article XII contains provisions that govern the relationship between NASDAQ OMX and each of its subsidiaries that is a self-regulatory organization. First, the article requires NASDAQ OMX's “[d]irectors, officers, employees, and agents” (emphasis added) to give due regard to the preservation of the independence of each self-regulatory subsidiary, not to take any actions that would interfere with each self-regulatory subsidiary's regulatory functions, to cooperate with the Commission, to consent to U.S. jurisdiction, and to consent in writing to the applicability of these provisions. Corresponding provisions of Articles VII, VIII, and IX of the NYSE Euronext By-Laws, however, do not include the ambiguous and potentially expansive word “agent.” NASDAQ OMX is concerned that a broad construction of the term—to include not only parties with which it establishes an explicit contractual agency relationship, but also other service providers such as law firms and financial advisors that may act on NASDAQ OMX's behalf on certain occasions—may deter some parties from providing services to NASDAQ OMX. However, in lieu of the requirement to obtain specific consents from agents, NASDAQ OMX proposes to adopt a provision from the NYSE Euronext By-Laws providing that NASDAQ OMX shall comply with the U.S. federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder and shall cooperate with the SEC and the Self-Regulatory Subsidiaries pursuant to and to the extent of their respective regulatory authority, and shall take reasonable steps necessary to cause its agents to cooperate, with the SEC and, where applicable, the Self-Regulatory Subsidiaries pursuant to their regulatory authority. Second, Article XII provides that NASDAQ OMX and its officers, directors and employees [6] agree to maintain an agent for service of process in the U.S. By contrast, Article VII of the NYSE Euronext By-Laws includes a statement that officers, directors and employees shall be deemed to agree that the Corporation may serve as the U.S. agent for service of process. Accordingly, NASDAQ OMX proposes to adopt this more self-executing version. Finally, while the NASDAQ OMX By-Laws provide that NASDAQ OMX shall take such action as is necessary to insure that officers, directors and employees consent in writing to the applicability of these provisions, Article IX of the NYSE Euronext By-Laws requires only that NYSE Euronext take reasonable steps necessary to cause officers, directors, and employees to consent. Although NASDAQ OMX has begun the process of collecting written consents from current officers, directors, and employees, it believes that the current language may be unreasonably demanding as applied to a multinational exchange operator with over 2,000 employees in over 20 countries. Accordingly, NASDAQ OMX proposes to adopt a version of NYSE Euronext's language, which will require reasonable steps to obtain consent from both current officers, directors, and employees, as well as prospective officers, directors, and employees prior to their acceptance of a position.

2. Statutory Basis

The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries believe that the proposed rule changes are consistent with the provisions of Section 6 of the Act,[7] in general, and with Sections 6(b)(1) and (b)(5) of the Act,[8] in particular, in that the proposals enable them to be so organized as to have the capacity to be able to carry out the purposes of the Act and to comply with and enforce compliance by members and persons associated with members with provisions of the Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and self-regulatory organization rules, and are designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The proposed changes will enhance the clarity of NASDAQ OMX's governance documents and improve its Board committee structures.

B. Self-Regulatory Organizations' Statements on Burden on Competition

The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries do not believe that the proposed rule changes will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act, as amended.

C. Self-Regulatory Organizations' Statements on Comments on the Proposed Rule Changes Received From Members, Participants, or Others

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Changes and Timing for Commission Action

The foregoing rule changes have become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(iii) of the Act [9] and subparagraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 thereunder.[10] At any time within 60 days of the filing of the respective proposed rule change by the applicable NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiary, the Commission may summarily abrogate such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

A proposed rule change filed under Rule 19b-4(f)(6) [11] normally does not become operative for 30 days after the Start Printed Page 37280date of filing. However, Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii) [12] permits the Commission to designate a shorter time if such action is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest. The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries request that the Commission waive the 30-day operative delay so that the proposals may become operative immediately upon filing. The NASDAQ OMX Exchange Subsidiaries state that the proposed rule changes do not significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest and do not impose any significant burden on competition.

The Commission believes that waiving the 30-day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest.[13] As mentioned above, the Commission recently approved the proposed rule change by The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC to adopt as part of its rules these same proposed changes to the By-Laws of NASDAQ OMX.[14]

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule changes are consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Comments

Paper Comments

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Nos. SR-BX-2009-040 and SR-Phlx-2009-60. These file numbers should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule changes that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule changes 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 in the Commission's Public Reference Room on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of such filings also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal offices of the respective Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Nos. SR-BX-2009-040 and SR-Phlx-2009-60, and should be submitted on or before August 18, 2009.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[15]

Florence E. Harmon,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  Securities Exchange Act Release No. 59858 (May 4, 2009), 74 FR 22191 (May 12, 2009) (SR-NASDAQ-2009-039); Securities Exchange Act Release No. 60183 (June 26, 2009), 74 FR 32207 (July 7, 2009) (SR-NASDAQ-2009-039).

Back to Citation

4.  15 U.S.C. 78j-1(m). Notably, “Staff Directors,” who are officers of NASDAQ OMX serving on the NASDAQ OMX Board, are not considered independent under these provisions, and are therefore ineligible for service on the Audit Committee or Management Compensation Committee, or, as discussed below, the newly constituted Nominating Committee.

Back to Citation

5.  NASDAQ Exchange Rule 4350(c)(3).

Back to Citation

6.  The existing reference to “agents” in the sentence is proposed to be deleted.

Back to Citation

8.  15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(1), (5).

Back to Citation

9.  15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(A)(iii).

Back to Citation

12.  17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6)(iii).

Back to Citation

13.  For purposes only of waiving the 30-day operative delay, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

Back to Citation

14.  See supra, note 3 and accompanying text.

Back to Citation

[FR Doc. E9-17889 Filed 7-27-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P