June 24, 2013.
On May 7, 2013, NASDAQ OMX BX, Inc. (“Exchange” or “BX”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) 
and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,
a proposed rule change requesting permanent approval of the Exchange's pilot program that permits the BX Options System to accept inbound orders routed by Nasdaq Options Services LLC (“NOS”) from the NASDAQ OMX PHLX LLC (“PHLX”) and The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC's NASDAQ Options Market (“NOM”). The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on May 21, 2013.
The Commission received no comment letters regarding the proposed rule change. This order approves the proposed rule change.
BX Rule 2140(a) prohibits the Exchange or any entity with which it is affiliated from, directly or indirectly, acquiring or maintaining an ownership interest in, or engaging in a business venture with, an Exchange member or an affiliate of an Exchange member in the absence of an effective filing under Section 19(b) of the Act.
NOS is a registered broker-dealer that is a member of the Exchange, and currently provides to members of NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (“NASDAQ”) and PHLX optional routing services to other markets.
NOS is owned by NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (“NASDAQ OMX”), which also owns three registered securities exchanges—the Exchange, the NASDAQ and PHLX.
Thus, NOS is an affiliate of these exchanges.
Absent an effective filing, BX Rule 2140(a) would prohibit NOS from being a member of the Exchange. The Commission initially approved NOS's affiliation with BX in connection with NASDAQ OMX's acquisition of BX,
and NOS currently performs certain limited activities for the Exchange.
On May 1, 2012, BX filed a proposed rule change to permit the Exchange to accept inbound orders that NOS routes in its capacity as a facility of NASDAQ and PHLX on a pilot basis subject to certain limitations and conditions.
On May 7, 2013, the Exchange filed the instant proposal to allow the Exchange to accept such orders routed inbound by NOS from NASDAQ and PHLX on a permanent basis subject to certain limitations and conditions.
III. Discussion and Commission Findings
After careful review, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national Start Printed Page 39047securities exchange.
Specifically, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(1) of the Act,
which requires, among other things, that a national securities exchange be so organized and have the capacity to carry out the purposes of the Act, and to comply and enforce compliance by its members and persons associated with its members, with the provisions of the Act, the rules and regulation thereunder, and the rules of the Exchange. Further, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,
which requires, among other things, that the rules of a national securities exchange be 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, and 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. Section 6(b)(5) also requires that the rules of an exchange not be designed to permit unfair discrimination among customers, issuers, brokers, or dealers.
Recognizing that the Commission has expressed concern regarding the potential for conflicts of interest in instances where a member firm is affiliated with an exchange to which it is routing orders, the Exchange previously implemented limitations and conditions to NOS's affiliation with the Exchange to permit the Exchange to accept inbound orders that NOS routes in its capacity as a facility of NASDAQ and PHLX on a pilot basis.
The Exchange has now proposed to permit BX to accept inbound orders that NOS routes in its capacity as a facility of NASDAQ and PHLX on a permanent basis, subject to the same limitations and conditions of this pilot:
- First, the Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) maintain a Regulatory Contract, as well as an agreement pursuant to Rule 17d-2 under the Act (“17d-2 Agreement”).
Pursuant to the Regulatory Contract and the 17d-2 Agreement, FINRA is allocated regulatory responsibilities to review NOS's compliance with certain Exchange rules.
Pursuant to the Regulatory Contract, however, the Exchange retains ultimate responsibility for enforcing its rules with respect to NOS.
- Second, FINRA monitors NOS for compliance with the Exchange's trading rules, and collects and maintains certain related information.
- Third, FINRA provides a report to the Exchange's chief regulatory officer (“CRO”), on a quarterly basis, that: (i) quantifies all alerts (of which the Exchange or FINRA is aware) that identify NOS as a participant that has potentially violated Commission or Exchange rules, and (ii) lists all investigations that identify NOS as a participant that has potentially violated Commission or Exchange rules.
- Fourth, the Exchange has in place BX Rule 2140(c), which requires NASDAQ OMX, as the holding company owning both the Exchange and NOS, to establish and maintain procedures and internal controls reasonably designed to ensure that NOS does not develop or implement changes to its system, based on non-public information obtained regarding planned changes to the Exchange's systems as a result of its affiliation with the Exchange, until such information is available generally to similarly situated Exchange members, in connection with the provision of inbound order routing to the Exchange.
The Exchange stated that it has met all the above-listed conditions. By meeting such conditions, the Exchange believes that it has set up mechanisms that protect the independence of the Exchange's regulatory responsibility with respect to NOS, and has demonstrated that NOS cannot use any information advantage it may have because of its affiliation with the Exchange.
In the past, the Commission has expressed concern that the affiliation of an exchange with one of its members raises potential conflicts of interest, and the potential for unfair competitive advantage.
Although the Commission continues to be concerned about potential unfair competition and conflicts of interest between an exchange's self-regulatory obligations and its commercial interest when the exchange is affiliated with one of its members, for the reasons discussed below, the Commission believes that it is consistent with the Act to permit NOS, in its capacity as a facility of NASDAQ and PHLX, to route orders inbound to the Exchange on a permanent basis instead of a pilot basis, subject to the limitations and conditions described above.
The Exchange has proposed four ongoing conditions applicable to NOS's routing activities, which are enumerated above. The Commission believes that these conditions will mitigate its concerns about potential conflicts of interest and unfair competitive advantage. In particular, the Commission believes that FINRA's Start Printed Page 39048oversight of NOS,
combined with FINRA's monitoring of NOS's compliance with the Exchange's rules and quarterly reporting to the Exchange, will help to protect the independence of the Exchange's regulatory responsibilities with respect to NOS. The Commission also believes that the Exchange's Rule 2140(c) is designed to ensure that NOS cannot use any information advantage it may have because of its affiliation with the Exchange.
It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,
that the proposed rule change (SR-BX-2013-036) be, and hereby is, approved.
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.25
Kevin M. O'Neill,
[FR Doc. 2013-15497 Filed 6-27-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P