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Electronic trading: Portal alliance aims to facilitate 144a issuance

Twelve Wall Street firms are in the early stages of developing a single trading portal alliance platform, operated by Nasdaq, for all 144a securities. The companies hope the platform will bring liquidity and transparency to the 144a market, which has been associated with unregistered, opaque trading.

"With the advent of a more transparent and efficient private placement market, Latin American and other companies considering a traditional IPO have an attractive new option to gain faster, simpler, less expensive access to the capital they require," says John Jacobs, an executive vice-president at Nasdaq.

"Any initiative that aims to put more liquidity into the market will be well received," says Stefan Alexander, CFO of Globo, a Brazilian conglomerate that has issued 144a securities in the past. But Antonio Neto, head of structured finance at Société Générale in Brazil, has doubts: "I think this will be an important initiative, as it will facilitate investors’ access to these securities. However, I don’t think that there will be a dramatic change in liquidity."

Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wachovia will all join Nasdaq to form the new trading platform, called the Portal Alliance.

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