When Britain was about to defend itself and possibly be the last country to stand in the way of the German blitzkrieg, Winston Churchill called upon his countrymen to prove to the world that “this was their finest hour.”

For Nasdaq OMX Group, the launch of the first offering of Facebook shares to the public was a chance to display its prowess in handling the largest initial public offering and establish a shining moment in its history.

That didn’t happen. Trading opened a half hour late on Friday. Orders placed on its IPO Cross system did not get delivered to the market. For about two hours, Nasdaq could not issue quotes on Facebook shares. And, yet, it continued trading in Facebook shares, a possible violation of Regulation National Market System.

"This was not our finest hour," chief executive Robert Greifeld said Sunday, according to this BBC Report.

Angry traders and investors are bombarding Nasdaq officials with demands that the exchange make good on losses they say were incurred during the technical glitches Friday. “These people say that the demands for money could total $100 million or possibly more,’’ the BBC said. But Greifeld on Sunday was taking the position that the exchange was not liable for any losses.

Nasdaq officials decided to work through the snafus because a pulled deal would be too reminiscent of the BATS Global Markets IPO in March. That electronic exchange operator had to withdraw its IPO altogether, after a software bug precluded it from launching its own shares on its own listing market on its own auction technology platform.

According to a Fox Business Network report by Charles Gasparino, one trader said, “Let’s hope Mr. Greifeld does the right thing, the gentlemanly thing and makes us whole.

“This is worse than BATS because they at least pulled the deal; my clients were in limbo all day,” the trader said.

Traders say they were told by Nasdaq officials that the exchange would hold an “off line” or manual auction of unmet orders, at the end of the day, Fox reported. With shares closing barely above the opening price of $38, that could still be possible. But investors could also just buy the shares outright.

Griefeld sadi Sunday that, despite all the advanced testing of its IPO Cross and other systems in preparation for the Facebook launch, there were unspecificed design problems with its technology, according to the Wall Street Journal.

These involved order cancellations . Tests Nasdaq had conducted failed to detect the problems, he said in an interview with reporters.

The exchange is "humbly embarrassed" by the technical problems, he said, but expects the market operator will “ continue to gain market share in handling IPOs,’’ according to the Journal report.


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