By Jonathan Spicer
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group's <NDAQ.O> failed bid for long-time rival NYSE Euronext <NYX.N> was a "brief interlude" for management and a disappointment, and now the exchange is moving on, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Robert Greifeld, speaking at a brief annual meeting, said he owed it shareholders to make the offer, and would ensure that the Nasdaq Stock Market parent was positioned to capture "emerging growth opportunities."
Nasdaq partnered with IntercontinentalExchange Inc <ICE.N> early last month to bid $11.3 billion for NYSE to thwart the Big Board's friendly merger with Germany's Deutsche Boerse AG <DB1Gn.DE>. The pair backed down this month after the U.S. Department of Justice blocked the bid on antitrust grounds.
"Our objective was to seek an expedited decision from the DOJ whatever the outcome. We are grateful that the bid was a brief interlude of focused effort by select members of the management team," Greifeld said.
"Certainly we are disappointed with the outcome, but we felt we owed it to our shareholders and our customers to consider this proposal and ultimately to pursue it," the CEO said, repeating that it was an "opportunistic move."
With exchanges planning to band together to cut costs and diversify revenue sources, analysts say Nasdaq, left on the sidelines, could strike a deal, possibly with London Stock Exchange Group Plc <LSE.L>, Singapore Exchange Ltd <SGXL.SI> or options specialist CBOE Holdings Inc <CBOE.O>.
Others say Nasdaq's relatively weak price-to-earnings ratio makes it difficult to pull off deals without taking on large amounts of debt, and point to the company's record earnings in the first quarter as reasons to stand down.
Buying NYSE Euronext "could have been a huge home run, and how do you know if you don't try?" said a shareholder who requested anonymity. "But I don't know if it makes a lot of sense to do any of the other possible deals out there."
Greifeld, whose eight years at the helm of Nasdaq have been packed with deal-making, signaled he was moving on from the month-and-a-half battle for the Big Board.
Shareholders who gathered at the 15-minute meeting, which was webcast, did not ask the CEO any questions.
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer. Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman and Robert MacMillan)