Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., under scrutiny after shares of Facebook Inc. were plagued by delays and mishandled orders on its first day of trading, blamed “poor design” in the software it uses for driving auctions in initial public offerings.
Computer systems used to establish the opening price were overwhelmed by order cancellations and updates as the “biggest IPO cross in the history of mankind” was occurring, Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. Nasdaq’s systems fell into a “loop” that prevented the second-largest U.S. stock venue operator from opening the shares on schedule following the $16 billion deal, he said.
Nasdaq officials manually intervened to allow the auction to occur at 11:30 a.m. The IPO software “didn’t work” even after thousands of hours of testing for “a hundred scenarios” aimed at anticipating problems, Greifeld said. “We’re not happy with our performance,” he said on the call yesterday.
Facebook advanced 23 cents to $38.23 after surging as high as $45. It fell as low as the IPO price of $38, which valued the company at $104.2 billion. More than 43 million shares were executed at that level, the second-most changing hands at any price except for $42, the opening auction price, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Clearly investors would hit the ‘don’t like’ button,” Matt McCormick, who helps oversee $6.2 billion at Bahl & Gaynor Inc. in Cincinnati, said in a telephone interview.