SEC Review of Facebook IPO Suggests Technical Failures, Not Violations

Features Dow Jones Newswires

Facebook Inc.'s problems going public on the Nasdaq Stock Market likely represent a technical breakdown rather than a breach of industry rules, according to a person familiar with the review that regulators are conducting.

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When the review is complete, the Securities and Exchange Commission may recommend new rules for the pricing of initial public offerings that would have the effect of temporarily delaying trading of a stock after the initial price is set, the person said.

The SEC is examining whether markets should wait for a more definitive signal that the opening trade has been completed and confirmed before continuous trading begins, the person said.

Currently, shares start trading on the open market right after an initial "print" -- the price that results from the match-up of orders before trading starts.

Executives at Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.'s Nasdaq Stock Market have said that after initial delays to Facebook's shares opening, a flood of canceled orders for the stock and changes to pre-existing orders interfered with its process of matching buy and sell orders to form the first trade.

It took staff about 20 minutes to resolve the matter and let the IPO proceed, during which time millions of shares of trades fell into limbo.