Nasdaq Liffe Markets (NQLX), the electronic exchange joint venture by Liffe and Nasdaq launched in March 2001, has appointed Thomas Ascher as chief executive officer. Ascher will be responsible for the strategic, long-term vision and operations of NQLX, which is to introduce single-stock futures (SSFs) this spring.Ascher was formerly executive vice-president, Interactive Brokers Group, where he oversaw the company’s initiative to offer options linkage. This led to it becoming the sole firm connecting all five US options exchanges. Ascher was integral to the recently announced strategic joint venture between the Boston Stock Exchange, Bourse de Montreal and Interactive Brokers to create a new US securities options exchange.
Ascher has been a member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange since 1986, and a director from 1994 to 1999. In 1997 he was named vice-chairman of the board of directors and chairman of the executive committee. Other responsibilities include service on the Options Clearing Corporation nominating committee and a trustee on the Cincinnati Stock Exchange. He will work from NQLX's headquarters in New York City.
NQLX is the first US market-place since the repeal of the Shad Johnson Accord in September of 2000, to be approved by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for trading of single-stock futures. These are exchange-traded futures contracts on individual stocks which allow traders to take large exposures in those stocks at low costs due to leverage possibilities.
There had been some expectation that US regulators, the Securities Exchange Commission and the CFTC, would issue their final rules on single-stock futures by December 21, the date set by the US Congress for the start of retail trading. Instead, the two agencies issued a statement to say they planned to move swiftly.
On February 5, NQLX released a preliminary list of 50 stocks that it expects to list as SSFs. A spokesman for NQLX told RiskNews the exchange was waiting for an imminent regulatory ruling from the CFTC on margin trading for SSFs. Once permission is granted, NQLX should hopefully be trading SSFs within the following 30-60 days, he said.
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