Exchange Operator Bats Shifts Payments to Market Makers for ETFs


(This article first appeared on Reuters)

Bats Global Markets Inc will stop paying issuers of exchange-traded funds to list their high-volume securities on its exchange and instead will compensate the firms that support trading in those ETFs, the company said on Tuesday.

The move is intended to improve the overall trading environment and attract new listings, Bats said.

“We are going to reward the market maker who is a critical component of an ETF’s success with material economics, and the hope is that they can support a whole basket of securities,” Bryan Harkins, head of U.S. markets at BATS, said in an interview.

ETFs are among the investment industry’s fastest-growing products, and exchanges have been using incentives to win new listings and lure existing ones from competitors.

Kansas City, Missouri-based Bats said it would pay lead market makers, trading firms that are essential to the smooth trading of ETFs, up to $400,000 per product that they support.

Lead market makers often use their own money to buy and distribute the first shares of a new ETF. They also help keep ETF market prices roughly in sync with the value of the stocks, bonds and other securities held by the funds. Companies that support new ETFs must offer to buy or sell shares at competitive prices in return for trading rebates.

The lead market makers, which are chosen by the ETF issuers, will receive annual payments from Bats starting at $3,000 for securities with average daily volume of 1 million to 3 million shares. The top fee is $400,000 for products with volumes of 35 million or more.

The move comes after Nasdaq Inc said earlier this month it would increase the amount it pays market makers that support lower-volume exchange-traded products, including exchange-traded notes, while reducing rebates for such securities with higher volume.

Bats listed its first ETFs in January 2012 with a handful of BlackRock Inc’s iShares securities. It is now home to 98 ETFs by 15 issuers.

Among the more established venues for ETFs and other exchange-traded products, Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s NYSE Arca said it had 1,565 such listings at the end of June, while Nasdaq had 267

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