With a mixture of vision and nostalgia, the seat owners of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) voted Tuesday to acquire Archipelago Holdings...

Share story

NEW YORK — With a mixture of vision and nostalgia, the seat owners of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) voted Tuesday to acquire Archipelago Holdings, a deal that will transform the 213-year-old Big Board into a for-profit company with new, high-tech trading capabilities.

More than 95 percent of the voting members approved the $9 billion transaction, according to the NYSE. More than 90 percent of the exchange’s 1,366 seats were represented in the vote, tallied in the exchange’s sixth-floor conference room, considered a Wall Street institution.

“There certainly was some nostalgia there,” John Thain, NYSE chief executive, said in a conference call with reporters. “A lot of attendees were members for many, many years, and they wanted to be present at this historic transaction and say that they were there.”

Archipelago shareholders, meeting in Chicago, approved the transaction earlier Tuesday, though the margin of the vote was not disclosed.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The acquisition, expected to close in late January, will create a new publicly held corporation, NYSE Group, with the exchange and Archipelago becoming divisions of the company.

The new stock will be listed on the NYSE as NYX one day after the deal closes. A secondary stock offering has been tentatively set for late February or March, Thain said.

Its storied history and iconographic status aside, the NYSE has been under competitive pressure from the Nasdaq Stock Market and other electronic trading platforms in the past decade.

While the exchange prides itself in its floor auctions, which help reduce price volatility, modern stock traders have been drawn to Nasdaq’s transaction speeds, where a penny price difference could mean thousands of dollars made or lost.

Some of that competitive pressure came from Archipelago itself, which has increased its share of NYSE-listed stock trades in recent years, but has also seen intense competition from other electronic trading platforms.

Some questions and answers about the $9 billion transaction and how it will affect one of the most well-known symbols of American capitalism:

Q: What does this mean for individual investors?

A: For the average stock investor, there’s very little immediate impact. Stocks will continue to trade on the floor of the NYSE, as well as on Archipelago and other electronic systems.

But as competition between the new NYSE Group and the Nasdaq increases as time goes on, the two will likely lower their transaction costs to attract stock trades.

As computerization increases and fees fall, investors could ultimately see faster and cheaper stock trades.

Q: Since the NYSE took over an electronic trading system, does that mean there won’t be any more brokers crowding around those posts on the floor of the exchange?

A: Despite the march of modernization, floor brokers and the open-outcry auction system they use will remain an integral part of the NYSE, according to exchange officials.

Floor brokers already use handheld computers, which replaced those ubiquitous slips of paper that littered the floor in years past.

The NYSE will continue to computerize trading, and some floor brokers certainly fear that more computers will mean less business for them.

But for now, the crowds of brokers shouting out their trades will remain a fixture on the floor.

Q: Will floor brokers be able to use Archipelago’s computerized trading system as well?

A: Yes. The exchange has promised its floor brokers access to Archipelago, which means those brokers can not only trade stocks listed on the NYSE, but also trade stocks listed on the rival Nasdaq Stock Market.

That could help brokers squeezed by modernization find different avenues to help build their businesses.