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SEC vows to settle stock symbol clash

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2007/04/06 16:52

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has received competing proposals on allocating stock symbols, with the New York Stock Exchange wanting to guard shorter stock identifiers from being used by Nasdaq-listed companies.

The SEC said yesterday it will work to resolve conflicts between the proposals over the issue of symbols with three or fewer characters. The NYSE and other exchanges are pushing to limit the use of one-, two-and three-character symbols to those listing markets that have traditionally used them.

Nasdaq and other self-regulatory organizations are trying to permit any listing market to use one-, two-, three-, four- or five-character symbols, allowing companies to move their securities onto the Nasdaq while retaining their ticker symbols.

The SEC said it plans to publish the proposals for comment and "will resolve the conflicts ... as fairly and expeditiously as possible." A spokesperson did not know when the issue would be decided.

The investor protection agency asked the exchanges in February 2005 to work together to develop a national plan for reserving, selecting and allocating securities symbols.

"Securities symbols are an important part of a listed company's identity and developing a formal process to reserve, select and allocate symbols ... will help promote a fair and orderly national market system and prevent investor confusion," said SEC Market Regulation Director Eric Sirri.

Following the SEC request to formalize the symbol allocation system, Nasdaq announced its intention to begin listing companies with three or less symbols. Last month, Delta Financial Corp. became the first company to trade on the Nasdaq with a three-character symbol – DFC – after a proposal to list that specific company was approved. Nasdaq moved a step further with a March 29 proposal to the SEC that would explicitly permit the display of three-character symbols on its exchange. The SEC will consider the proposal after the public comment period ends April 25.


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