"Flash Boys" exchange IEX drops out of corporate listings

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock exchange operator IEX Group said on Monday it was exiting corporate listings to focus on other areas of its business after failing to make inroads on the incumbent listings exchanges, Nasdaq Inc and Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s New York Stock Exchange.

The listings business is fiercely competitive and IEX has won only a single listing, Interactive Brokers Group Inc , since it became an exchange in 2016. Interactive Brokers said it plans to move its stock back to Nasdaq, where it was listed before switching to IEX last year.

“It’s a business where the big exchanges are entrenched,” Brad Katsuyama, chief executive officer of IEX, said in an interview.

New York-based IEX was thrust into the spotlight in 2014 when its founders were featured in the controversial book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” which claimed that the markets were rigged to favor high-speed traders. The author, Michael Lewis, followed IEX’s founders as they set out to build an exchange they believed would level the playing field for all traders.

There was a lot of interest from companies about potentially listing on IEX after “Flash Boys” was released, but that momentum waned, Katsuyama said.

Closely held IEX has recently been hitting record stock trading volumes, at just under 3% market share, as well as record revenues and profits, but listings have been a drag on that profitability, he said.

IEX also recently launched a developer platform called IEX Cloud, a data normalization and storage business known as IEX Astral, and a data distribution service in areas outside of finance called IEX Event Stream.

“It was a good time to kind of like think about what businesses we wanted to be and which ones we didn’t,” said Katsuyama.

IEX said its listings team will be given jobs in other areas of the company. (Reporting by John McCrank Editing by Shri Navaratnam)