IEX, America's newest stock exchange, calls itself The Investors Exchange.
Now, it wants to become the exchange for some of America's biggest companies, too.
The exchange group has hired former Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley executive Sara Furber as head of listings, and hopes to be ready to host corporate listings by next year.
"It's rare to have a clear, logical opportunity to grow a business and add value for clients by simplifying all of this complexity," Furber told Business Insider.
IEX still requires regulatory approval to host listings, and the firm will soon send the Securities and Exchange Commission the final documents required as part of its application for approval.
IEX sent out a letter to potential listing clients earlier this year, and is expected to focus on luring companies listed on other exchanges to move to IEX. Steve Wynn, an investor in IEX, has said he will move the listing of Wynn Resorts to IEX once the exchange group is ready.
In going after corporate listings, IEX is once again going head to head with NYSE and Nasdaq, the two establishment exchanges that pushed for the SEC to reject IEX's exchange application. It's likely to be a difficult task. The two exchanges host the vast majority of publicly-listed companies. IEX, though, is undeterred.
"Corporates ask us to explain the difference between NYSE and Nasdaq all the time but the conversation inevitably turns into how similar they are, not how different," Furber said.
Furber started out as an investment banker, and was head of investor relations at Merrill Lynch during its merger with Bank of America. She later moved to Morgan Stanley, where she was most recently head of institutional wealth management.
Greg Fleming, who worked with Furber at Merrill Lynch and at Morgan Stanley, where he was the president of the wealth management business until earlier this year, told Business Insider that Furber would be a success at IEX.
"Sara has a proven record of innovating and executing at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley at critical times," he said.
IEX will benefit from hosting listings in two ways. Corporate issuers pay a fee to the exchanges where they are listed, adding another revenue stream for the upstart exchange. And while stocks can trade anywhere regardless of where they are listed, trading tends to be concentrated on the home exchange right after the open and before the close.
The exchange plans to have a flat fee for listings, and is expected to introduce unique aspects to its auction process, the details of which will be set out in the final documents to be filed with the SEC.
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