Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”), and Rule 19b-4  thereunder, notice is hereby given that on April 9, 2010, The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (the “NASDAQ Exchange”) 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 Exchange. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.
I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change
The NASDAQ Exchange is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) a proposed rule change relating to the By-Laws of its parent corporation, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (“NASDAQ OMX”).
The text of the proposed rule change is available on the Exchange's Web site at http://www.nasdaq.cchwallstreet.com, at the principal office of the NASDAQ Exchange, on the Commission's Web site at http://www.sec.gov, and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.
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 NASDAQ Exchange 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 IV below. The NASDAQ Exchange 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
NASDAQ OMX has proposed making certain amendments to its By-Laws to make improvements in its governance. In SR-NASDAQ-2010-025, The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (“NASDAQ Exchange”) sought Commission approval to adopt these By-Laws changes as part of the rules of NASDAQ Exchange, and the Commission granted approval to these changes in an order dated April 8, 2010. The NASDAQ Exchange is now submitting this filing on an immediately effective basis to adopt the same By-Law changes as rules of the Exchange.
The NASDAQ OMX By-Laws previously provided that each director receiving a plurality of the votes at any election of directors at which a quorum is present is duly elected to the Board. Under Corporate Governance Guidelines adopted by the Board, however, any director in an uncontested election who received a greater number of votes “withheld” from his or her election than votes “for” such election was required to tender his or her resignation promptly following receipt of the certification of the stockholder vote. The NASDAQ OMX Nominating & Governance Committee then considered the resignation offer and recommended to the Board whether to accept it. Within 90 days after the certification of the election results, the Board determined whether to accept or reject the resignation. Promptly thereafter, the Board announced its decision by means of a press release. In a contested election (i.e., where the number of nominees exceeds the number of directors to be elected), the unqualified plurality standard controls.
NASDAQ OMX recently amended its By-Laws to adopt a majority vote standard, specifically By-Law Article IV, Section 4.4 of the By-Laws was amended to provide that, in an uncontested election, directors shall be elected by holders of a majority of the votes cast at any meeting for the election of directors at which a quorum is present. Under the majority voting standard, a nominee who fails to receive the requisite vote will not be duly elected to the Board. The By-Laws require that any incumbent nominee, as a condition to his or her nomination for election, must submit in writing an irrevocable resignation, the effectiveness of which is conditioned upon the director's failure to receive the requisite vote in any uncontested election and the Board's acceptance of the resignation. The resignation will be considered by the Nominating & Governance Committee and acted upon by the Board in the same manner described above. Acceptance of that resignation by the Board shall be in accordance with the policies and procedures adopted by the Board for such purpose. NASDAQ OMX specifies its policies and procedures pertaining to the election of its directors in its By-Laws. Specifically, the policies and procedures for the acceptance of the resignation of a director, by the Board, are proposed to be specified in By-Law Article IV, Section 4.4. There are no additional policies and procedures other than what is indicated in the By-Laws. In the event that NASDAQ OMX proposes to further amend its By-Laws with respect to the election of directors, including the adoption of any policies and procedure with respect to such election, NASDAQ OMX shall file a proposed rule change with the Commission to seek approval of those amendments.
NASDAQ OMX codified its process for a contested election. The directors will continue to be elected by a plurality vote in a contested election. There is no change to the process for contested elections because if a majority voting standard were to apply in a contested election, the likelihood of a “failed election” (i.e., a situation in which no director receives the requisite vote) would be more pronounced. Moreover, the rationale underpinning the majority voting policy does not apply in contested elections where stockholders are offered a choice among competing candidates. Directors are elected by a plurality of votes present in person or represented by proxy at a meeting. The directors who receive the greatest number of votes cast for election of directors at the meeting will be elected.
General Election Requirements
The following applies to elections of directors and were not amended. Each share of common stock has one vote, subject to the voting limitation in Start Printed Page 23832NASDAQ OMX's certificate of incorporation that generally prohibits a holder from voting in excess of 5% of the total voting power of NASDAQ OMX. In addition, each note holder is entitled to the number of votes equal to the number of shares of common stock into which such note could be converted on the record date, subject to the 5% voting limitation contained in the certificate of incorporation.
The presence of owners of a majority (greater than 50%) of the votes entitled to be cast by holder of NASDAQ OMX voting securities constitutes a quorum. Presence may be in person or by proxy. Any securities not voted, by abstention, will not impact the vote.
2. Statutory Basis
The NASDAQ Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the provisions of Section 6 of the Act, in general, and with Sections 6(b)(1) and (b)(5) of the Act, in particular, in that the proposal enables the NASDAQ Exchange 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 is 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 amendments adopting a majority vote standard would enable the directors to be elected in a manner reflective of the desires of shareholders and provide a mechanism to protect against the election of directors by less than a majority vote of the shareholders.
B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition
The NASDAQ Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition 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
No written comments were either solicited or received.
III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action
Because the foregoing proposed rule change does not: (i) Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) become operative for 30 days after the date of the filing, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate, if consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest, it has become effective pursuant to 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act  and Rule 19b-4(f)(6)  thereunder.
The NASDAQ Exchange has noted that the proposed rule change is identical to a proposed rule change recently approved by the Commission with respect to the NASDAQ Exchange  and has requested that the Commission waive the 30-day operative delay to ensure that NASDAQ OMX is able to implement the proposed rule change without undue delay. The Commission has determined that waiving the 30-day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest because such waiver will enable NASDAQ OMX to implement the proposed rule change without undue delay in a manner consistent with a proposed rule change previously approved by the Commission. Therefore, the Commission designates the proposal operative upon filing.
At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, 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.
IV. 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. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
- Use the Commission's Internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml ); or
- Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include File Number SR-NASDAQ-2010-048 on the subject line.
- 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 Number SR-NASDAQ-2010-048. This file number 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 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 Web site viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of the filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the NASDAQ 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 Number SR-NASDAQ-2010-048 and should be submitted on or before May 25, 2010.Start Signature
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.
Elizabeth M. Murphy,
3. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 61876 (April 8, 2010), 75 FR 19436 (April 14, 2010) (SR-NASDAQ-2010-025).Back to Citation
4. NASDAQ OMX also amended its Corporate Governance Guidelines to reflect the majority vote standard for uncontested director elections.Back to Citation
5. See NASDAQ OMX By-Law Article IV, Section 4.5.Back to Citation
6. See NASDAQ OMX Certificate of Incorporation at Article IV, C.1(a).Back to Citation
7. See NASDAQ OMX Certificate of Incorporation at Article IV, C.1(b)2.Back to Citation
11. 17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6). In addition, Rule 19b-4(f)(6) requires a self-regulatory organization to give the Commission written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change at least five business days prior to the date of filing of the proposed rule change, or such shorter time as designated by the Commission. The NASDAQ Exchange has satisfied this requirement.Back to Citation
12. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 61876 (April 8, 2010), 75 FR 19436 (April 14, 2010) (SR-NASDAQ-2010-025).Back to Citation
13. Id.Back to Citation
14. 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
[FR Doc. 2010-10301 Filed 5-3-10; 8:45 am]
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