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Google applies to list on Nasdaq, shuns NYSE

Reuters

Posted: Jul 15, 2004 at 1316 hrs IST

Google Inc said it plans to list its $2.7 billion initial public offering -- the most hotly anticipated of the year -- on the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc, dealing a blow to the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq and the NYSE have publicly indicated they were aggressively courting Google. Neither market gave any indication why the Web search company decided on the Nasdaq, but analysts have long speculated the technology-laden No. 2 US market had the advantage.

In an amended regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Google said it would list with Nasdaq. It did not specify which trading symbol it intends to use.

Given the significance of the announcement, the Nasdaq was restrained in its response. Bethany Sherman, a Nasdaq spokeswoman, said the market "typically does not comment on pending IPOs."

The NYSE put its best face on Google's decision, issuing a statement that said: "Google is an outstanding company with a great management team, and we wish the company well with its initial public offering."

During the technology boom of the 1990's the Nasdaq saw its cachet soar as the premier destination for technology listings. The New York Stock Exchange, in an effort to compete more aggressively for technology listings, opened a Silicon Valley office and lobbied dot-coms.

The Nasdaq's fortunes have waned since the dot-com bubble burst, but Google's listing suggests the market remains attractive for high-profile public offerings.

"It's pretty well established for a technology company to be listed on Nasdaq," said George Sarlo, co-founder and a partner at WaldenVC, a venture capital firm. "I would have been surprised actually if they had listed on the New York Stock Exchange."

GOOGLE'S DECISION SEEN SLIGHTLY ANTI-CLIMACTIC

Analysts broadly agreed that the Nasdaq was likely to emerge the victor over its most bitter rival.

"I wouldn't say it's a huge surprise," said Robert Hegarty, vice president of securities and investments at research firm Tower Group. Tower Group is majority owned by MasterCard International.

"Google obviously is the biggest technology IPO to come out in years, and Nasdaq probably pulled out all the stops to retain their rep as the world's leading technology (market)", Hegarty added.

While the NYSE, the world's largest stock exchange, is home to a mix of 2,800 small, mid-size and juggernaut companies that collectively have a market valuation of $18 trillion, the Nasdaq trades some of the technology sector's most recognizable bellwethers -- most notably Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.

"I guess they see more liquidity in the Nasdaq environment," said Sal Morreale, who follows IPOs for Cantor Fitzgerald, adding that Google's decision to list on Nasdaq was a big plus for the market.

In the filing, Google gave more details about the auction process it will use to sell its shares to the public.

For instance, it said bidders would have to reconfirm the bids they submitted if more than 15 business days elapsed since they were submitted or if there was a material change in the prospectus that required it to be recirculated.

Unconfirmed bids would be disregarded and "deemed to have been withdrawn," the filing said.

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