Did the Nasdaq Stock Market drop the ball in its drive to acquire the London Stock Exchange (LSE)? Not so, says Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld: his trading company simply "chose not to win."
Greifeld spoke with CNBC's Scott Wapner about what short-circuited the combo that would've built a transatlantic leviathan. Firstly, he noted the oddity of a process in which conversations were "all through [LSE] shareholders" -- and never once between management teams of the respective entities.
LSE shareholders had agreed to tender their shares to the Nasdaq at a higher price than what was on the table. The $5.3 billion deal slipped away on Saturday. The CEO of the No. 2 U.S. exchange said there is "a price you simply cannot go past," no matter how attractive the target. But Greifeld also mused that "more competition is coming" in Europe's exchanges-as-businesses sector, a notion that he claims "was not factored in" by LSE management. He noted that Nasdaq is still "maintaining optionality" -- i.e., keeping its stake in the LSE, for now.
So many might see the next question as a matter of logical progression: Doesn't Nasdaq need a trans-national purchase to stay competitive? Again, Greifeld spoke with confidence, declaring that his company is in the black and will stay that way, thanks to its "maniacal focus." He pointed to the example of Internet brokerage E-Trade Financial , which switched its listing from the New York Stock Exchange to Nasdaq in December. In his interview for "Power Lunch," the CEO said one of the e-commerce firm's "key determinants" in switching was the fact that Nasdaq was already trading almost 40% of E-Trade's volume. "Why pay the excessive rent to trade in New York [i.e., NYSE], when you'll end up trading on Nasdaq anyway?"