UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
|December 31, 2020|
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period
from ________ to ________
Commission file number: 001-38855
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)||(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)|
|151 W. 42nd Street,||New York,||New York||10036|
|(Address of Principal Executive Offices)||(Zip Code)|
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: +1 212 401 8700
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share||NDAQ||The Nasdaq Stock Market|
|0.875% Senior Notes due 2030||NDAQ30||The Nasdaq Stock Market|
|1.75% Senior Notes due 2029||NDAQ29||The Nasdaq Stock Market|
|1.75% Senior Notes due 2023||NDAQ23||The Nasdaq Stock Market|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☒||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $13.6 billion (this amount represents approximately 114.4 million shares of Nasdaq, Inc.’s common stock based on the last reported sales price of $119.47 of the common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market on such date).
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the issuer’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.
|Class||Outstanding at February 11, 2021|
|Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share||164,795,634 ||shares|
|Documents Incorporated by Reference: Certain portions of the Definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.|
About this Form 10-K
Throughout this Form 10-K, unless otherwise specified:
•“Nasdaq,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to Nasdaq, Inc.
• “Nasdaq Baltic” refers to collectively, Nasdaq Tallinn AS, Nasdaq Riga, AS, and AB Nasdaq Vilnius.
• “Nasdaq BX” refers to the cash equity exchange operated by Nasdaq BX, Inc.
•“Nasdaq BX Options” refers to the options exchange operated by Nasdaq BX, Inc.
•“Nasdaq Clearing” refers to the clearing operations conducted by Nasdaq Clearing AB.
•“Nasdaq CXC” and “Nasdaq CX2” refer to the Canadian cash equity trading books operated by Nasdaq CXC Limited.
•“Nasdaq First North” refers to our alternative marketplaces for smaller companies and growth companies in the Nordic and Baltic regions.
•“Nasdaq GEMX” refers to the options exchange operated by Nasdaq GEMX, LLC.
•“Nasdaq ISE” refers to the options exchange operated by Nasdaq ISE, LLC.
•“Nasdaq MRX” refers to the options exchange operated by Nasdaq MRX, LLC.
•“Nasdaq Nordic” refers to collectively, Nasdaq Clearing AB, Nasdaq Stockholm AB, Nasdaq Copenhagen A/S, Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd, and Nasdaq Iceland hf.
•“Nasdaq PHLX” refers to the options exchange operated by Nasdaq PHLX LLC.
•“Nasdaq PSX” refers to the cash equity exchange operated by Nasdaq PHLX LLC.
•“The Nasdaq Options Market” refers to the options exchange operated by The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC.
•“The Nasdaq Stock Market” refers to the cash equity exchange and listing venue operated by The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC.
* * * * * *
Nasdaq also provides as a tool for the reader the following list of abbreviations and acronyms that are used throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
401(k) Plan: Voluntary Defined Contribution Savings Plan
2017 Credit Facility: $1 billion senior unsecured revolving credit facility, which was terminated in December 2020
2020 Credit Facility: $1.25 billion senior unsecured revolving credit facility, which matures on December 22, 2025
2021 Notes: €600 million aggregate principal amount of 3.875% senior unsecured notes due June 7, 2021, repaid in full and terminated in March 2020
2022 Notes: $600 million aggregate principal amount of 0.455% senior unsecured notes due December 21, 2022
2023 Notes: €600 million aggregate principal amount of 1.75% senior unsecured notes due May 19, 2023
2024 Notes: $500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.25% senior unsecured notes due June 1, 2024
2026 Notes: $500 million aggregate principal amount of 3.85% senior unsecured notes due June 30, 2026
2029 Notes: €600 million aggregate principal amount of 1.75% senior unsecured notes due March 28, 2029
2030 Notes: €600 million aggregate principal amount of 0.875% senior unsecured notes due February 13, 2030
2031 Notes: $650 million aggregate principal amount of 1.650% senior unsecured notes due January 15, 2031
2040 Notes: $650 million aggregate principal amount of 2.500% senior unsecured notes due December 21, 2040
2050 Notes: $500 million aggregate principal amount of 3.25% senior unsecured notes due April 28, 2050
ASU: Accounting Standards Update
ATS: Alternative Trading System
ASU 2016-13: Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments
AUM: Assets Under Management
CAT: A market-wide consolidated audit trail established under an SEC approved plan by Nasdaq and other exchanges
CCP: Central Counterparty
CFTC: U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
EMIR: European Market Infrastructure Regulation
Equity Plan: Nasdaq Equity Incentive Plan
ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance
ESPP: Nasdaq Employee Stock Purchase Plan
ETF: Exchange Traded Fund
ETP: Exchange Traded Product
Exchange Act: Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended
FASB: Financial Accounting Standards Board
FICC: Fixed Income and Commodities Trading and Clearing
FINRA: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
IPO: Initial Public Offering
LIBOR: London Interbank Offered Rate
MiFID II: Update to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive
MiFIR: Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation
MTF: Multilateral Trading Facility
NFF: Nasdaq Financial Framework; Nasdaq's end-to-end technology solutions for market infrastructure operators, buy-side firms, sell-side firms and other non-financial markets
NFX: Nasdaq Futures, Inc.
NPM: The NASDAQ Private Market, LLC
NSCC: National Securities Clearing Corporation
OCC: The Options Clearing Corporation
Proxy Statement: Nasdaq's Definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders
PSU: Performance Share Unit
Regulation NMS: Regulation National Market System
Regulation SCI: Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity
SaaS: Software as a Service
SEC: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
SERP: Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan
SFSA: Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority
SI: Systematic Internalizer
S&P: Standard & Poor’s
S&P 500: S&P 500 Stock Index
SPAC: Special Purpose Acquisition Company
SRO: Self-regulatory Organization
SSMA: Swedish Securities Markets Act 2007:528
TSR: Total Shareholder Return
U.S. GAAP: U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
UTP: Unlisted Trading Privileges
UTP Plan: Joint SRO Plan Governing the Collection, Consolidation, and Dissemination of Quotation and Transaction Information for Nasdaq-Listed Securities Traded on Exchanges on a UTP Basis
* * * * * *
NASDAQ, the NASDAQ logos, and other brand, service or product names or marks referred to in this report are trademarks or service marks, registered or otherwise, of Nasdaq, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. FINRA and TRADE REPORTING FACILITY are registered trademarks of FINRA.
* * * * * *
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes market share and industry data that we obtained from industry publications and surveys, reports of governmental agencies and internal company surveys. Industry publications and surveys generally state that the information they contain has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but we cannot assure you that this information is accurate or complete. We have not independently verified any of the data from third-party sources nor have we ascertained the underlying economic assumptions relied upon therein. Statements as to our market position are based on the most currently available market data. For market comparison purposes, The Nasdaq Stock Market data in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for IPOs is based on data generated internally by us; therefore, the data may not be comparable to other publicly-available IPO data. Data in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for new listings of equity securities on The Nasdaq Stock Market is based on data generated internally by us, which includes issuers that switched from other listing venues, closed-end funds and ETPs. Data in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for IPOs and new listings of equity securities on the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges and Nasdaq First North also is based on data generated internally by us. IPOs and new listings data is presented as of period end. While we are not aware of any misstatements regarding industry data presented herein, our estimates involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, including those discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
* * * * * *
Nasdaq intends to use its website, ir.nasdaq.com, as a means for disclosing material non-public information and for complying with SEC Regulation FD and other disclosure obligations.
The SEC encourages companies to disclose forward-looking information so that investors can better understand a company’s future prospects and make informed investment decisions. This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains these types of statements. Words such as “may,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “anticipates,” “envisions,” “estimates,” “expects,” “projects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes” and words or terms of similar substance used in connection with any discussion of future expectations as to industry and regulatory developments or business initiatives and strategies, future operating results or financial performance, and other future developments are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These include, among others, statements relating to:
•our strategic direction;
•the integration of acquired businesses, including accounting decisions relating thereto;
•the scope, nature or impact of acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures or other transactional activities;
•the effective dates for, and expected benefits of, ongoing initiatives, including transactional activities and other strategic, restructuring, technology, de-leveraging and capital return initiatives;
•our products and services;
•the impact of pricing changes;
•the cost and availability of liquidity and capital;
•any litigation, or any regulatory or government investigation or action, to which we are or could become a party or which may affect us; and
•the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response of governments and other third parties on our business, operations, results of operations, financial condition, workforce or the operations or decisions of our customers, suppliers or business partners.
Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements include, among others, the following:
•our operating results may be lower than expected;
•our ability to successfully integrate acquired businesses or divest sold businesses or assets, including the fact that any integration or transition may be more difficult, time consuming or costly than expected, and we may be unable to realize synergies from business combinations, acquisitions, divestitures or other transactional activities;
•loss of significant trading and clearing volumes or values, fees, market share, listed companies, market data customers or other customers;
•our ability to develop and grow our non-trading businesses, including our technology and analytics offerings;
•our ability to keep up with rapid technological advances and adequately address cybersecurity risks;
•economic, political and market conditions and fluctuations, including interest rate and foreign currency risk, inherent in U.S. and international operations;
•the performance and reliability of our technology and technology of third parties on which we rely;
•any significant error in our operational processes;
•our ability to continue to generate cash and manage our indebtedness; and
•adverse changes that may occur in the litigation or regulatory areas, or in the securities markets generally, or increased regulatory oversight domestically or internationally.
Most of these factors are difficult to predict accurately and are generally beyond our control. You should consider the uncertainty and any risk related to forward-looking statements that we make. These risk factors are discussed under the caption “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report. You should carefully read this entire Annual Report on Form 10-K, including “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and the related notes. Except as required by the federal securities laws, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements or report the occurrence of unanticipated events. For any forward-looking statements contained in any document, we claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Item 1. Business
Nasdaq is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offerings of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.
We manage, operate and provide our products and services in four business segments: Market Services, Corporate Platforms, Investment Intelligence and Market Technology. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we renamed certain of our segments and businesses. See Note 1, “Organization and Nature of Operations,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion.
Nasdaq was founded in 1971 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of FINRA. Beginning in 2000, FINRA restructured and broadened ownership in Nasdaq by selling shares to FINRA members, investment companies and issuers listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market. In connection with this restructuring, FINRA fully divested its ownership of Nasdaq in 2006, and The Nasdaq Stock Market became an independent registered national securities exchange in 2007.
In February 2008, Nasdaq and OMX AB combined their businesses, and we changed our corporate name to The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. This transformational combination resulted in the expansion of our business from a U.S.-based exchange operator to a global exchange company offering technology that powers our own exchanges and markets as well as many other marketplaces around the world. We operated as the NASDAQ OMX Group until we rebranded our business as Nasdaq, Inc. in 2015. The chart below shows our historical evolution from 1971 through the present.
Since our transformative combination with OMX AB in 2008, we have grown our business both organically and through acquisitions that have expanded our operations globally and increasingly diversified our product and service offerings. This evolution was driven by our ability to create opportunities in areas adjacent to our core businesses, many
of which are non-transaction based and rooted in innovative technology. To keep pace with our understanding of future trends and to ensure our continued success in the evolving business environment, we have focused on refining our vision, mission, purpose and strategy:
Our Vision: To reimagine markets to realize the potential of tomorrow.
Our Mission: To provide the premier platform and ecosystem for global capital markets and beyond with unmatched technology, insights and markets expertise.
Our Purpose: To champion inclusive growth and prosperity. We power stronger economies, create more equitable opportunities and contribute to a more sustainable world to help our communities, clients, employees and people of all backgrounds reach their full potential.
Our Strategy: Our strategic direction is driven by our continuous examination of: (i) key macroeconomic, regulatory and technology trends, (ii) consultation with our clients about short- and long-term trends in their businesses and (iii) the competitive landscape.
Under the strategic direction that we have been implementing over the past four years, we have focused on maximizing the resources, people and capital allocated to our largest growth opportunities, particularly in our Market Technology and Investment Intelligence segments, as we seek to execute on our transformation into a higher growth, more scalable platform to meet our clients' most critical needs. We are also committed to maintaining and enhancing the marketplace platform businesses that are core to Nasdaq, including Market Services and Corporate Platforms. Additionally, we will continue to execute on our strategy to reduce capital and resources in areas that we believe are not as strategic to our clients and have less growth potential within Nasdaq. Our four business segments reflect our broad capabilities, with Market Technology and Investment Intelligence providing our technology and intelligence growth platform, and Corporate Platforms and Market Services serving as our foundational marketplace core.
•Increasing Investment in Businesses Where We See the Highest Growth Opportunity. We have increased investment in areas that we believe help solve our clients’ biggest challenges and are likely to generate growth for our stockholders. These areas include: the index and analytics business within our Investment Intelligence segment; ESG-focused solutions, within our Corporate Platforms segment; and our Market Technology segment (including our anti-financial crime technology business).
Consistent with this objective, in 2020 we acquired Solovis, a provider of multi-asset class portfolio management, analytics and reporting tools across public and private markets, which is a part of our Investment Intelligence segment. In February 2021, we completed the acquisition of Verafin, a provider of anti-financial
crime management solutions, which is part of our Market Technology segment. We are continuing to invest in the Market Technology segment through the expansion, enhancement, and flexibility of our technology platform, in addition to leveraging emerging technologies such as machine intelligence in our Trade Surveillance offering.
•Enhancing Our Foundation. As we strive to grow our business, we also have focused on enhancing our leadership position in the marketplaces in which we operate as we continue to innovate with new functionality and strong market share in our core markets. We migrated Nasdaq BX Options to a new trading platform that leverages the NFF. This updated technology will drive commonality across our internal derivatives markets.
•Optimizing Slower Growth Businesses. We continually review areas that are not critical to our core. In these areas, we expect to continue to target resiliency and efficiency versus growth, and free up resources when possible to redirect toward greater opportunities. In February 2021, we entered into an agreement to sell our U.S. fixed income business. This transaction aligns with our strategy to concentrate our resources and capital in order to maximize our potential as a major technology and analytics provider to the global capital markets. See “Sale of U.S. Fixed Income Business,” of Note 21, “Subsequent Events,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of this transaction.
Products and Services
Our Market Services segment includes our Equity Derivative Trading and Clearing, Cash Equity Trading, FICC and Trade Management Services businesses.
Equity Derivative Trading and Clearing
We operate six options exchanges in the U.S.: Nasdaq PHLX, The Nasdaq Options Market, Nasdaq BX Options, Nasdaq ISE, Nasdaq GEMX and Nasdaq MRX. These exchanges facilitate the trading of equity, ETF, index and foreign currency options. Together, our combined options market share in 2020 represented the largest share of the U.S. market for all categories, including single-exchange-listed options products. Our options trading platforms provide trading opportunities to both retail investors, algorithmic trading firms and market makers, who tend to prefer electronic trading, and institutional investors, who typically pursue more complex trading strategies and often trade on the floor.
In Europe, Nasdaq offers trading in derivatives, such as stock options and futures and index options and futures. Nasdaq Clearing offers central counterparty clearing services for stock options and futures and index options and futures.
Cash Equity Trading
In the U.S., we operate three cash equity exchanges: The Nasdaq Stock Market, Nasdaq BX and Nasdaq PSX. Our U.S. cash equity exchanges offer trading of both Nasdaq-listed and non-Nasdaq-listed securities. The Nasdaq Stock Market is the largest single venue of liquidity for trading U.S.-listed cash equities. Market participants include market makers, broker-dealers, ATSs, institutional investors, and registered securities exchanges.
In Canada, we operate an exchange with three independent markets, Nasdaq Canada CXC, Nasdaq Canada CX2 and Nasdaq Canada CXD, for the trading of Canadian-listed securities.
In Europe, Nasdaq operates exchanges in Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), and Reykjavik (Iceland). We also operate exchanges in Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania).
Collectively, the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges offer trading in cash equities, depository receipts, warrants, convertibles, rights, fund units and ETFs, as well as trading and clearing of derivatives and clearing of resale and repurchase agreements. Our platform allows the exchanges to share the same trading system, which enables efficient cross-border trading and settlement, cross membership and a single source for Nordic data products. Settlement and registration of cash equity trading takes place in Sweden, Finland, and Denmark via the local central securities depositories. In addition, Nasdaq owns a central securities depository that provides notary, settlement, central maintenance and other services in the Baltic countries and Iceland.
Our FICC business includes the U.S. and European portions of the Nasdaq Fixed Income, or NFI, business and Nasdaq Commodities.
The U.S. portion of Nasdaq Fixed Income includes an electronic platform for trading U.S. Treasuries. The electronic trading platform provides real-time institutional trading of benchmark U.S. Treasury securities. Through this business, we provide trading access to the U.S. Treasury securities market with an array of trading instruments to meet various investment goals across the fixed income spectrum. On February 2, 2021, we announced that we entered into a purchase and sale agreement, or the Purchase Agreement, to sell our U.S. Fixed Income business. See “Sale of U.S. Fixed Income Business,” of Note 21, “Subsequent Events,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of this transaction.
The European portion of Nasdaq Fixed Income provides a wide range of products and services, such as trading and clearing, for fixed income products in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Nasdaq is the largest bond listing venue in the Nordics, with more than 5,800 listed retail and institutional bonds. In addition, Nasdaq Nordic facilitates the trading and clearing of Nordic fixed
income derivatives in a unique market structure. Buyers and sellers agree to trades in fixed income derivatives through bilateral negotiations and then report those trades to Nasdaq Clearing. Nasdaq Clearing offers central counterparty clearing services for fixed-income options and futures and interest rate swaps. Nasdaq Clearing also operates a clearing service for the resale and repurchase agreement market.
Nasdaq Commodities is the brand name for Nasdaq’s European commodity-related products and services. Nasdaq Commodities’ offerings include derivatives in power, natural gas and carbon emission markets, seafood, electricity certificates and clearing services. These products are listed on Nasdaq Oslo ASA, except for seafood, which is listed on Fishpool, a third party platform.
Nasdaq Oslo ASA is the commodity derivatives exchange for European products. All trades with Nasdaq Oslo ASA are subject to clearing with Nasdaq Clearing, which offers central counterparty clearing services for commodities options and futures.
Trade Management Services
We provide market participants with a wide variety of alternatives for connecting to and accessing our markets for a fee. Our marketplaces may be accessed via a number of different protocols used for quoting, order entry, trade reporting and connectivity to various data feeds. We also offer the Nasdaq Workstation, a browser-based, front-end interface that allows market participants to view data and enter orders, quotes and trade reports. In addition, we offer a variety of add-on compliance tools to help firms comply with regulatory requirements.
We provide colocation services to market participants, whereby we offer firms cabinet space and power to house their own equipment and servers within our data centers. Additionally, we offer a number of wireless connectivity offerings between select data centers using millimeter wave and microwave technology.
Our broker services operations business primarily offers technology and customized securities administration solutions to financial participants in the Nordic market. Such services and solutions primarily consist of flexible back-office systems, which allow customers to efficiently manage safekeeping, settlement and corporate actions and reporting, and include connectivity to exchanges and central securities depositories. In January 2020, we commenced an orderly wind-down of this broker services operations business. We expect this wind-down to continue through 2021.
Our Corporate Platforms segment includes our Listing Services and IR & ESG Services businesses. These businesses deliver critical capital market and governance solutions across the lifecycle of public and private companies.
We operate a variety of listing platforms around the world to provide multiple global capital raising solutions for private and public companies. Companies listed on our markets represent a diverse array of industries including, among others, health care, consumer products, telecommunication services, information technology, financial services, industrials and energy. Our main listing markets are The Nasdaq Stock Market and the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges.
Companies seeking to list securities on The Nasdaq Stock Market may do so on one of the three market tiers: The Nasdaq Global Select Market, The Nasdaq Global Market, or The Nasdaq Capital Market. To qualify, companies must meet minimum listing requirements, including specified financial and corporate governance criteria. Once listed, companies must maintain rigorous listing and corporate governance standards. We offer a suite of products to assist companies manage corporate governance standards, discussed below in “IR & ESG Services.”
As of December 31, 2020, a total of 3,392 companies listed securities on The Nasdaq Stock Market, with 1,476 listings on The Nasdaq Global Select Market, 907 on The Nasdaq Global Market and 1,009 on The Nasdaq Capital Market.
We seek new listings from companies conducting IPOs, including SPACs, and direct listings as well as companies looking to switch from alternative exchanges. In 2020, The Nasdaq Stock Market attracted 454 new listings, including 316 IPOs, representing 67% of U.S. IPOs in 2020. Of the 316 IPOs that listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market, 184 were operating companies, representing 83% of all operating company IPOs in 2020 and a 53% win rate among SPACs. The new listings were comprised of the following:
|Switches from the New York Stock Exchange LLC, or NYSE and the NYSE American LLC, or NYSE American||20 |
|Upgrades from OTC||46 |
|ETPs and Other Listings||72 |
During 2020, we had 20 new listings resulting from companies switching their listings from NYSE or NYSE American to join Nasdaq. Together with companies that transferred additional securities to Nasdaq during 2020, an aggregate of $282 billion in global equity market capitalization switched to Nasdaq. Notable switches in 2020 included AstraZeneca PLC, American Electric Power Company, Inc., Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., and Opendoor Technologies.
We also offer listings on the exchanges that comprise Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic. For smaller companies and growth companies, we offer access to the financial markets through the Nasdaq First North alternative marketplaces. As of December 31, 2020, a total of 1,071 companies listed
securities on our Nordic and Baltic exchanges and Nasdaq First North.
Our European listing customers include companies, funds and governments. Customers issue securities in the form of cash equities, depository receipts, warrants, ETPs, convertibles, rights, options, bonds or fixed-income related products. In 2020, a total of 67 new companies listed on our Nordic and Baltic exchanges and Nasdaq First North. In addition, 12 companies upgraded their listings from Nasdaq First North to the Nordic and Baltic exchanges.
Our Listing Services business also includes NPM, which provides liquidity solutions for private companies to enable employees, investors, and companies to execute transactions.
We are continuing to grow our U.S. Corporate Bond exchange for the listing of corporate bonds. This exchange operates pursuant to The Nasdaq Stock Market exchange license and is powered by the NFF. Surveillance is conducted by the Nasdaq regulatory team, assisted by our Nasdaq Trade Surveillance solution. As of December 31, 2020, 86 corporate bonds were listed on the Corporate Bond exchange. Our U.S. corporate bond listing offering won 11 new issues and we added 20 existing bond listings that transferred from the NYSE.
IR & ESG Services
Our IR & ESG Services business serves both public and private companies and organizations. Our public company clients can be companies listed on our exchanges or other U.S. and global exchanges. We help organizations enhance their ability to understand and expand their global shareholder base, improve corporate governance, and navigate the evolving ESG landscape through our suite of advanced technology, analytics, and consultative services. We also provide clients with counsel on a range of governance and sustainability-related issues.
As of December 31, 2020, we provided IR & ESG Services products and services in the following key areas:
•Investor Relations Intelligence. We offer a global team of consultative experts that deliver advisory services including Strategic Capital Intelligence, Shareholder Identification and Perception Studies, as well as an industry-leading platform, Nasdaq IR Insight, to investor relations professionals. These solutions allow investor relations officers to better manage their investor relations programs, understand their investor base, target new investors, manage meetings and consume key data such as investor profiles, equity research, consensus estimates and news.
•Governance Solutions. We provide a global technology offering and consultative services that streamline the meeting process for board of directors and executive leadership teams and help them accelerate decision making and strengthen governance. Our solutions protect sensitive data and facilitate productive collaboration, so
board members and teams can work faster and more effectively.
In January 2020, Nasdaq acquired OneReport, a provider of ESG reporting solutions that helps organizations to navigate corporate responsibility frameworks, manage the information capture and response process, and deliver ESG data to ratings agencies and other stakeholders.
Our Investment Intelligence business provides the global investing community with access to the financial markets together with strong investment insights.
Our Investment Intelligence segment is organized into the following businesses:
For both institutional and retail investors, our market and alternative data enhances transparency and access to the markets we operate, and we help guide investment decisions around the globe through our proprietary indexes and analytics.
Our Market Data business sells and distributes historical and real-time market data to the sell-side, the institutional investing community, retail online brokers, proprietary trading shops, other venues, internet portals and data distributors.
Our market data products enhance transparency of market activity within our exchanges and provide critical information to professional and non-professional investors globally. We collect, process and create information and earn revenues as a distributor of our own, as well as select third-party content. We provide varying levels of quote and trade information to our customers who in turn provide subscriptions for this information. Our systems enable distributors to gain access to our market depth, fund valuation, order imbalances, market sentiment and other analytical data.
We distribute this proprietary market information to both market participants and non-participants through a number of proprietary products, including Nasdaq TotalView, our flagship market depth quote product. TotalView shows subscribers quotes, orders and total anonymous interest at every displayed price level in The Nasdaq Stock Market for Nasdaq-listed securities and critical data for the opening, closing, halt and IPO crosses. We also offer TotalView products for our Nasdaq BX, Nasdaq PSX, Nasdaq Fixed Income and other Nordic markets.
We operate several other proprietary services and data products to provide market information, including Nasdaq Basic, a low cost alternative to the industry Level 1 feed and Nasdaq Canada Basic, a low cost alternative to other high
priced data feeds. We also provide various other data, including data relating to our six U.S. options exchanges, Nordic and U.S. futures, Nordic commodities, and U.S. Treasuries.
Our Market Data business also includes revenues from U.S. tape plans. The plan administrators sell quotation and last sale information for all transactions in Nasdaq-listed securities, whether traded on The Nasdaq Stock Market or other exchanges, to market participants and to data distributors, who then provide the information to subscribers. After deducting costs, the plan administrators distribute the tape revenues to the respective plan participants based on a formula required by Regulation NMS that takes into account both trading and quoting activity.
The Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges, as well as Nasdaq Commodities, also offer data products and services. These data products and services provide critical market transparency to professional and non-professional investors who participate in European marketplaces and, at the same time, give investors greater insight into these markets.
Much like the U.S. products, European data products and services are based on trading information from the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges, as well as Nasdaq Commodities, for the following classes of assets: cash equities, bonds, derivatives and commodities. We provide varying levels of quote and trade information to market participants and to data distributors, who in turn provide subscriptions for this information. Significant European data products include Nordic Equity TotalView, Nordic Derivative TotalView, and Nordic Fixed Income TotalView, Level 2 and Analytics.
Our Index business develops and licenses Nasdaq-branded indexes and financial products. License fees for our trademark licenses vary by product based on a percentage of underlying assets, dollar value of a product issuance, number of products or number of contracts traded. We also license cash-settled options, futures and options on futures on our indexes.
As of December 31, 2020, 339 ETPs listed in over 20 countries and exchanges tracked a Nasdaq index and accounted for $359 billion in AUM. This includes approximately $121 billion in ETP AUM, or 34% of the total AUM that tracked our smart beta indexes during this same time period. Our flagship index, the Nasdaq-100 Index, includes the top 100 non-financial securities listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market, and is tracked by more than 70 ETPs worldwide, and had nearly $200 billion in assets tracking the index as of December 31, 2020.
We provide index data products based on Nasdaq indexes. Index data products include our Global Index Data Service, which delivers real-time index values throughout the trading day, and Global Index Watch/Global Index File Delivery Service, which delivers daily as well as historical weightings and components data, corporate actions and a breadth of
additional data for our more than 46,000 indexes that we operate.
Nasdaq Dorsey Wright, or NDW, provides passive indexing and smart beta strategies to support the financial advisor community, as well as Systematic Relative Strength strategies to manage separately and unified managed accounts. NDW strengthens Nasdaq’s position as a leading smart beta index provider in the U.S.
Our Analytics business provides asset managers, investment consultants and institutional asset owners with information and analytics to make data-driven investment decisions, deploy their resources more productively, and provide liquidity solutions for private funds. Through eVestment and Solovis, we provide a suite of cloud-based solutions that help institutional investors and consultants conduct pre-investment due diligence, and monitor their portfolios post-investment. The eVestment platform also enables asset managers to market their institutional products worldwide.
Additionally, our Nasdaq Cloud Data Service provides a flexible and efficient method of delivery for real-time exchange data and other financial information. Data is made available through a suite of application programming interfaces, or APIs, allowing for the integration of data from disparate sources and a reduction in time to market for customer-designed applications. The API is highly scalable and can support the delivery of real-time exchange data.
Through the Solovis platform, endowments, foundations, pensions and family offices transform how they collect and aggregate investment data, analyze portfolio performance, model and predict future outcomes, and share meaningful portfolio insights with key stakeholders. The Nasdaq Fund Network and Quandl are additional components in our suite of investment data and analytics offerings. Nasdaq Fund Network gathers and distributes daily net asset values from over 33,000 funds and other investment vehicles across North America. We have extended Nasdaq Fund Network to support the distribution of collective investment trusts, hedge funds, managed accounts, separate accounts and demand deposit accounts. Quandl strengthens our position as a leading source for financial, economic, and alternative datasets. For investment management firms, investment banks and other investors, we provide predictive insights to inform investment decisions from discovered data.
Powering over 130 market infrastructure operators and new market clients in more than 50 countries, our Market Technology business is a leading global technology solutions provider and partner to exchanges, clearing organizations, central securities depositories, regulators, banks, brokers, buy-side firms and corporate businesses. Our solutions can handle a wide array of assets, including but not limited to cash equities, equity derivatives, currencies, various interest-bearing securities, commodities, energy products and digital currencies. Our solutions can also be used in the creation of
new asset classes, and non-capital markets customers, including those in insurance liabilities securitization, cryptocurrencies and sports wagering.
Nasdaq’s market technology is utilized by leading markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia as well as emerging markets in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Additionally, more than 180 market participants leverage our surveillance technology globally to manage their integrity obligations and assist them in complying with market rules, regulations and internal market surveillance policies.
During 2020, we advanced our strategic goals in order to establish a comprehensive SaaS business with a broad and interconnected portfolio by extending and migrating our current offerings to services. We created a cross-discipline transformation program, successfully migrated our Nasdaq Market Surveillance offering for marketplaces and regulators, advanced our Universal Matching Service, which is a cloud-optimize matching service, and launched our new SaaS marketplace platform layer, the Nasdaq Marketplace Services Platform, which leverages the NFF. We added 10 SaaS market infrastructure customers and 17 market participant customers, and established a partnership with Microsoft to deliver our Marketplace Services Platform via Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
Our Market Technology business has evolved from its origins serving the capital markets, as we have leveraged NFF to develop our SaaS platform and offerings. We expect to continue to expand adoption by our clients to this SaaS model in the future.
Market Infrastructure Operators (MIO) & New Markets Portfolio
For MIOs, we provide and deliver mission-critical solutions across the trade lifecycle via the NFF, which is our flexible and modular architecture and technology that provides next generation capital markets capabilities in an open and agile environment. The NFF is designed to cover all aspects of a market operator’s needs, from trading and clearing to risk management, market surveillance, index development, data, management, testing, and quality assurance. During 2020, we continued to invest in the NFF by enabling emerging technologies, including integrating technology for issuance and settlement of securities, cloud-enabled trading and clearing, and machine learning applications. In 2020, we also
materially completed development of the core NFF platform and moved to the deployment phase.
Our New Markets initiative is focused on extending the NFF’s capabilities and our expertise as a market operator outside of capital markets. Market Technology currently offers its services to several digital assets exchanges, two commercial real estate markets, the reinsurance market, and several sports wagering operators. Our Marketplaces Services Platform provides next-generation marketplace capabilities spanning the transaction lifecycle to facilitate the exchange of assets, services and information across various types of market ecosystems and machine-to-machine transactions. The Marketplaces Services Platform is targeted at new markets and enables end-to-end marketplace implementation without the resources required with on-premise solutions.
Many MIO and New Markets projects involve complex delivery management and systems integration. Through our integration services, we can assume responsibility for projects that involve migration to a new system and the establishment of entirely new marketplaces. We also offer operation and support for the applications, systems platforms, networks and other components included in an information technology solution, as well as advisory services.
Buy- and Sell-side Portfolio
We continue to expand the NFF offering to the global bank and broker community. Regulatory pressure across multiple jurisdictions has made outsourcing of front-office infrastructure an attractive option for sell-side organizations and, as a result, we offer trading and execution infrastructure for SIs, single-dealer platforms and both multi-lateral and organized trading facilities. Our execution platform business continued its growth in 2020.
We also continue to extend our anti-financial crime strategy. Our Nasdaq Trade Surveillance solution is a managed service designed for brokers and other market participants to assist them in complying with market rules, regulations and internal market surveillance policies. In 2020, we added an anti-money laundering offering with a new automated investigator tool for retail banks, the Nasdaq Automated Investigator. Additionally, in February 2021, we completed the acquisition of Verafin, a provider of anti-financial crime management solutions that provides a cloud-based platform to help detect, investigate, and report money laundering and financial fraud to more than 2,000 financial institutions in North America. We also offer our clients Nasdaq Risk, which is a suite of products that offer a real-time, multi-tiered risk solution that integrates pre-, at- and on-trade risk management, including margining.
Technology plays a key role in ensuring the growth, reliability and regulation of financial markets. We have established a technology risk program to evaluate the resiliency of critical systems, including risks associated with cybersecurity. This program is focused on identifying areas for improvement in systems, and implementing changes and
upgrades to technology and processes to minimize future risk. We have continued our focus on improving the security of our technology with an emphasis on employee awareness through training, targeted phishing campaigns, and new tool deployment for our securities operations team. See “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion.
Core Technology. The NFF is Nasdaq’s approach to delivering end-to-end solutions for market infrastructure operators, buy-side firms, sell-side firms and other non-financial markets. The framework consists of a single operational core platform that ties together Nasdaq’s portfolio of functionality across the trade lifecycle, in an open framework whereby exchanges, clearinghouses, central securities depositories, and other entities can easily integrate Nasdaq’s business applications with each other, as well as other third-party solutions. In addition to being able to integrate a broad range of business functions, the NFF enables end users to leverage recent technology developments.
We are a global technology company and we continue to diversify our product and service offerings by having a client-first focus and orientation; unparalleled expertise in markets; a trusted, independent, global brand; unique technology capabilities and reputation; and fostering a leading issuer community and investor intelligence platform. We believe that our strong competitive position in large, high-growth markets positions us for sustained growth.
A Unique Value Proposition
We operate a diverse and resilient capital markets franchise with a marketplace core. Our businesses provide capital-markets infrastructure services to industry players, allowing us to:
•Develop efficient and reliable technologies to facilitate capital markets activity;
•Manage the complexities and costs of business on a global scale; and
•Provide data, tools and insights that drive sound decision making.
The strength and resiliency of our technology, enhanced by our Market Technology business, in meeting the advancing demands of our global customer base is vital to the continued success of our business and distinguishes us from our competitors.
A Focus on Client Needs Throughout the Marketplace
We strive to serve a diverse range of clients including:
•Brokers and Traders - Helping brokers and traders to confidently plan, optimize and execute their business vision.
•Market Participants - Enabling market participants to monitor and capitalize on real-time market changes.
•Investors and Asset Managers - Offering products and services to assist investors and asset managers in optimizing their portfolios and offerings.
•Listed Companies - Promoting the capital health of our listed companies.
•Private Companies - Working with private companies to meet liquidity needs, manage relationships with long-term institutional investors and oversee their entire equity program.
•Market Infrastructure Players - Assisting market infrastructure players (exchanges, regulators, clearinghouses, and central securities depositories) in increasing efficiency, meeting customer needs and growing revenue.
•Capital-Markets - Delivering efficiencies through economies of scale (cost, speed, connectivity) to all members of the capital-markets ecosystem.
•Banks and Financial Institutions - Providing a suite of trade surveillance and anti-financial crime management solutions.
We face intense competition in North America and Europe in businesses that comprise our Market Services segment. We seek to provide market participants with greater functionality, trading system stability, speed of execution, high levels of customer service, and efficient pricing. In both North America and Europe, our competitors include other exchange operators, operators of non-exchange trading systems and banks and brokerages that operate their own internal trading pools and platforms.
In the U.S., our options markets compete with exchanges operated by Cboe Global Markets, Inc., or Cboe, Miami International Holdings, Inc., or MIAX, and Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., or ICE. In cash equities in the U.S., we compete with exchanges operated by Cboe, ICE, MIAX, The Investors Exchange, and the recently launched Members Exchange and the Long Term Stock Exchange. We also face
competition from ATSs, known as “dark pools,” and other less-heavily regulated broker-owned trade facilitation systems, as well as from other types of OTC trading. In Canada, our cash equities exchange competes with exchanges such as the Toronto Stock Exchange, or TSX, and other marketplaces.
In Europe, our cash equities markets compete with exchanges such as Euronext N.V., Deutsche Börse AG and London Stock Exchange Group plc, or LSE, and many MTFs such as Cboe, Turquoise and Aquis. Our competitors in the trading and clearing of options and futures on European equities include Eurex, Cboe, ICE Futures Europe and London Clearing House, or LCH. In addition, in equities in Europe we face competition from other broker-owned systems, dark pools, SIs, and other types of OTC trading. Competition among exchanges for trading European equity derivatives tends to occur where there is competition in the trading of the underlying equities. In addition to exchange-based competition, we face competition from OTC derivative markets.
The implementation of MiFID II and MiFIR has resulted in further competitive pressure on our European trading business. SIs are already attracting a significant share of electronically matched volume and we expect such venues to compete aggressively for the trading of equity securities listed on our Nordic exchanges. Different bilateral trading systems pursuing block business also remain active in Europe. As part of this, trading on SIs has increased markedly as volumes migrate from more transparent types of trading venues. Regulators are continuously monitoring the market structure and have, in a series of consultations, asked for input regarding suggested changes to MiFID II.
Our FICC business also operates in an intensely competitive environment. Our trading platform for benchmark U.S. treasuries faces competition from both long-established competitors, such as CME Group Inc. and newly emerging electronic and voice brokerages, and the operating environment remains extremely challenging. Our European fixed income and commodities products and services are subject to relentless competitive pressure from European exchanges and clearinghouses.
Our Trade Management Services business competes with other exchange operators, extranet providers, and data center providers.
Our Listing Services business in both the U.S. and Europe provides a means of facilitating capital formation through public capital markets. There are competing ways of raising capital, and we seek to demonstrate the benefits of listing shares on our exchange. Our primary competitor for larger company stock share listings in the U.S. is NYSE. The Nasdaq Stock Market competes with local and international markets located outside the U.S. for listings of equity securities of both U.S. and non-U.S. companies that choose to list (or dual-list) outside of their home country. For
example, The Nasdaq Stock Market competes for listings with exchanges in Europe and Asia, such as LSE and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited. Additionally, we face competition from private equity firms that may elect to keep their portfolio companies as private companies.
The Listings Services business in Europe is characterized by a large number of exchanges competing for new or secondary listings. Each country has one or more national exchanges, which are often the first choice of companies in each respective country. For those considering an alternative, competing European exchanges that frequently attract many listings from outside their respective home countries include LSE, Euronext N.V. and Deutsche Börse AG. In addition to the larger exchanges, companies seeking capital or liquidity from public capital markets are able to raise capital without a regulated market listing and can consider trading their shares on smaller markets and quoting facilities.
In our IR & ESG Services business, competition is varied and can be fragmented. For our Investor Relations Intelligence business, there are many regional competitors and relatively few global providers. Other exchange operators are partnering with firms that have capabilities in this area and seeking to acquire relevant assets in order to provide investor relations services to customers alongside listing services. The competitive landscape for our Governance Solutions business varies by customer segment and geography. Most competitors offer SaaS solutions that are supported by a data center strategy. Some firms offer specialized services that focus on a single niche segment. The larger players often offer additional services. Customers frequently seek single-source providers that are able to address a broad range of needs within a single platform. Our ESG-focused services, including Nasdaq OneReport and ESG Advisory, are positioned in evolving markets with competitors offering multiple point solutions providing software, data or consulting services.
Our Market Data business in the U.S. includes both proprietary and consolidated data products. Proprietary data products are made up exclusively of data derived from each exchange’s systems. Consolidated data products are distributed by SEC-mandated consolidators (one for Nasdaq-listed stocks and another for NYSE and other-listed stocks) that share the revenue among the exchanges that contribute data. In Europe, all data products are proprietary, as there is no official data consolidator. Competition in the data business is intense and is influenced by rapidly changing technology and the creation of new product and service offerings.
The sale of our proprietary data products in both the U.S. and Europe is under competitive threat from alternative exchanges and trading venues that offer similar products. Our data business competes with other exchanges and third party vendors to provide information to market participants. Examples of our competitors in proprietary data products are ICE, Cboe, TSX, and Dow Jones & Company.
The consolidated data business is under competitive pressure from other securities exchanges that trade Nasdaq-listed securities. In addition, The Nasdaq Stock Market similarly competes for the tape fees from the sale of information on securities listed on other markets.
Our Index business faces competition from providers of various competing financial indexes. For example, there are a number of indexes that aim to track the technology sector and thereby compete with the Nasdaq-100 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index. We face competition from investment banks, dedicated index providers, markets and other product developers, including S&P Dow Jones Indices, MSCI and FTSE Russell.
Our Analytics business faces competition from a broad array of data and analytics suppliers, both established firms and small start-ups. Our primary competitors are Morningstar, FactSet, Mercer and any number of smaller firms along with start-up data providers and aggregators. Our Solovis offering competes with other analytics providers, including Addepar and Caissa. Additionally, other large providers to the financial services industry, such as Bloomberg and Refinitiv, are believed to be interested in pursuing certain aspects of the services we provide.
Traditionally, exchanges and exchange-related businesses internally developed technology, sometimes aided by consultants. However, over time this model has changed as many operators have recognized the cost-savings made possible by buying technology from third parties. As a result, two types of competitors have emerged in our Market Technology segment: exchange operators and technology providers unaffiliated with exchanges. These organizations make available a range of off-the-shelf technology, including trading, clearing, market surveillance, settlement, depository and information dissemination, and offer customization and operation expertise. Market conditions in Market Technology are evolving rapidly, which makes continuous investment and innovation a necessity.
A wide range of providers compete with us in surveillance. In surveillance, standardization of products and budget pressures drive customers to focus on pricing. Our competitors range from large enterprise software providers that cover the broader compliance lifecycle to smaller vendors focusing on a single silo of the compliance workflow. Recently, an influx of start-ups have entered the space from the FinTech landscape, often shifting from data and analytics, or a complimentary silo like electronic communications, to surveillance. Our offerings must demonstrate ability to decrease false-positives, provide in-depth views into potential abuses and risks that stem from those cases and help firms both reduce the reputational and regulatory risk and complexity in efforts to keep markets safe.
We believe that our intellectual property assets are important for maintaining the competitive differentiation of our products, systems, software and services, enhancing our ability to access technology of third parties and maximizing our return on research and development investments.
To support our business objectives and benefit from our investments in research and development, we actively create and maintain a wide array of intellectual property assets, including patents and patent applications related to our innovations, products and services; trademarks related to our brands, products and services; copyrights in software and creative content; trade secrets; and through other intellectual property rights, licenses of various kinds and contractual provisions. We enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and contractors, and utilize non-disclosure agreements with third parties with whom we conduct business in order to secure and protect our proprietary rights and to limit access to, and disclosure of, our proprietary information.
We own, or have licensed, rights to trade names, trademarks, domain names and service marks that we use in conjunction with our operations and services. We have registered many of our most important trademarks in the U.S. and in foreign countries. For example, our primary “Nasdaq” mark is a registered trademark that we actively seek to protect in the U.S. and in over 50 other countries worldwide.
Over time, we have accumulated a robust portfolio of issued patents in the U.S. and in many other jurisdictions across the world. We currently hold rights to patents relating to certain aspects of our products, systems, software and services, but we primarily rely on the innovative skills, technical competence and marketing abilities of our personnel. No single patent is in itself core to the operations of Nasdaq or any of its principal business areas.
Corporate Venture Practice
We operate a corporate venture program to make minority investments primarily in emerging growth financial technology companies that are strategically relevant to, and aligned with, Nasdaq. Investments are made through the venture program to further our organic research and development efforts and accelerate the path to commercial viability. We expect that capital invested will continue to be modest and will not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements, existing capital return or deployment priorities. Since its inception in 2017, our venture program has grown, with aggregate initial and follow-on investments of approximately $67 million in 15 companies in various sectors, including data and analytics, blockchain and digital assets, market infrastructure, machine intelligence and regulatory technology and compliance, ESG and new marketplaces.
Environmental, Social and Governance Matters
Nasdaq is committed to long-term ESG, advocacy, oversight, and philanthropy to engage with stakeholders at all levels. During 2020, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movement, we broadened our corporate and community ESG efforts, including expanding ESG oversight of our own operations and furthering our commitment to greater sustainability. Nasdaq achieved its continued commitment to be carbon neutral across all business operations through the purchase of green power, carbon offsets, and renewable energy certificates. We were named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for the fifth consecutive year. We also expanded our ESG services and solutions with new offerings for our clients, including our new platform Nasdaq OneReport to help clients streamline the data gathering process to provide data to ratings agencies, the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network, which provides access to detailed information on sustainable, green and social bonds and allows investors to obtain detailed information on sustainable bonds for product due diligence, selection and monitoring, the Nasdaq ESG Data Portal, which now includes ESG-related data from more than 600 companies and the Nasdaq ESG Footprint, a tool to help both institutional and retail investors understand the real-life impact of their portfolios. We also provide clients with counsel on a range of governance and sustainability-related issues.
Additionally, we filed a new proposed U.S. listing rule with the SEC that seeks to standardize disclosure of board-level diversity statistics through a consistent disclosure framework. The proposal includes disclosure of either the recommended minimum diversity goal of two diverse directors or an explanation, and is subject to SEC approval.
For more information regarding our ESG efforts in 2020, both internally and externally, please see the section entitled “Human Capital Management” below and our 2021 Proxy Statement.
We are subject to extensive regulation in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
U.S. federal securities laws establish a system of cooperative regulation of securities markets, market participants and listed companies. SROs conduct the day-to-day administration and regulation of the nation’s securities markets under the close supervision of, and subject to extensive regulation, oversight and enforcement by, the SEC. SROs, such as national securities exchanges, are registered with the SEC.
This regulatory framework applies to our U.S. business in the following ways:
•regulation of our registered national securities exchanges; and
•regulation of our U.S. broker-dealer and investment advisor subsidiaries.
National Securities Exchanges. SROs in the securities industry are an essential component of the regulatory scheme of the Exchange Act for providing fair and orderly markets and protecting investors. The Exchange Act and the rules thereunder, as well as each SRO’s own rules, impose many regulatory and operational responsibilities on SROs, including the day-to-day responsibilities for market and broker-dealer oversight. Moreover, an SRO is responsible for enforcing compliance by its members, and persons associated with its members, with the provisions of the Exchange Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, and the rules of the SRO, including rules and regulations governing the business conduct of its members.
Nasdaq currently operates three cash equity, six options markets and one corporate bond market in the U.S. We operate The Nasdaq Stock Market, The Nasdaq Options Market and the Corporate Bond Market pursuant to The Nasdaq Stock Market’s SRO license; Nasdaq BX and Nasdaq BX Options pursuant to Nasdaq BX’s SRO license; Nasdaq PSX and Nasdaq PHLX pursuant to Nasdaq PHLX’s SRO license; and Nasdaq ISE, Nasdaq GEMX and Nasdaq MRX, each of which operates an options market under its own SRO license. As SROs, each entity has separate rules pertaining to its broker-dealer members and listed companies. Broker-dealers that choose to become members of our exchanges are subject to the rules of those exchanges.
All of our U.S. national securities exchanges are subject to SEC oversight, as prescribed by the Exchange Act, including periodic and special examinations by the SEC. Our exchanges also are potentially subject to regulatory or legal action by the SEC at any time in connection with alleged regulatory violations. We have been subject to a number of routine reviews and inspections by the SEC or external auditors in the ordinary course, and we have been and may in the future be subject to SEC enforcement proceedings. To the extent such actions or reviews and inspections result in regulatory or other changes, we may be required to modify the manner in which we conduct our business, which may adversely affect our business.
Section 19 of the Exchange Act provides that our exchanges must submit to the SEC proposed changes to any of the SROs’ rules, practices and procedures, including revisions to provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws that constitute SRO rules. The SEC will typically publish such proposed changes for public comment, following which the SEC may approve or disapprove the proposal, as it deems appropriate. SEC approval requires a finding by the SEC that the proposal is consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations thereunder. Pursuant to the requirements of the Exchange Act, our exchanges must file with the SEC, among other things, all proposals to change their pricing structure.
Nasdaq conducts real-time market monitoring, certain equity surveillance not involving cross-market activity, most options
surveillance, rulemaking and membership functions through our Nasdaq Regulation department. We review suspicious trading behavior discovered by our regulatory staff, and depending on the nature of the activity, may refer the activity to FINRA for further investigation. Pursuant to regulatory services agreements between FINRA and our SROs, FINRA provides certain regulatory services to our markets, including some regulation of trading activity and surveillance and investigative functions. Our SROs retain ultimate regulatory responsibility for all regulatory activities performed under regulatory agreements by FINRA, and for fulfilling all regulatory obligations for which FINRA does not have responsibility under the regulatory services agreements.
In addition to its other SRO responsibilities, The Nasdaq Stock Market, as a listing market, also is responsible for overseeing each listed company’s compliance with The Nasdaq Stock Market’s financial and corporate governance standards. Our listing qualifications department evaluates applications submitted by issuers interested in listing their securities on The Nasdaq Stock Market to determine whether the quantitative and qualitative listing standards have been satisfied. Once securities are listed, the listing qualifications department monitors each issuer’s on-going compliance with The Nasdaq Stock Market’s continued listing standards.
Broker-dealer regulation. Nasdaq’s broker-dealer subsidiaries are subject to regulation by the SEC, the SROs and various state securities regulators. Nasdaq operates five broker-dealers: Nasdaq Execution Services, LLC, Execution Access, LLC, NPM Securities, SMTX, LLC, and Nasdaq Capital Markets Advisory LLC. Each broker-dealer is registered with the SEC, a member of FINRA and registered in the U.S. states and territories required by the operation of its business.
Nasdaq Execution Services operates as our routing broker for sending orders from Nasdaq's U.S. cash equity and options exchanges to other venues for execution. SMTX acts as an intermediary to facilitate closings of, and introduce prospective accredited investors in connection with, private non-capital raising transactions. Nasdaq Capital Markets Advisory acts as a third-party advisor to privately-held or publicly-traded companies during IPOs and various other offerings.
Two of our broker-dealers also are registered with the SEC as ATSs. Execution Access operates as the broker-dealer for our fixed income business, including as Nasdaq Fixed Income’s registered ATS for U.S. Treasury securities. NPM Securities operates an ATS that facilitates the purchase and sale of ownership interests in primary and secondary transactions in certain funds (both registered or not registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940), business development companies, certain closed end funds and private real estate investment funds.
The SEC, FINRA and the exchanges adopt rules and examine broker-dealers and require strict compliance with their rules and regulations. The SEC, SROs and state securities commissions may conduct administrative proceedings which
can result in censures, fines, the issuance of cease-and-desist orders or the suspension or expulsion of a broker-dealer, its officers or employees. The SEC and state regulators may also institute proceedings against broker-dealers seeking an injunction or other sanction. All broker-dealers have an SRO that is assigned by the SEC as the broker-dealer’s Designated Examining Authority. The Designated Examining Authority is responsible for examining a broker-dealer for compliance with the SEC’s financial responsibility rules. FINRA is the current Designated Examining Authority for each of our broker-dealer subsidiaries.
Our registered broker-dealers are subject to regulatory requirements intended to ensure their general financial soundness and liquidity, which require that they comply with certain minimum capital requirements. As of December 31, 2020, each of our broker-dealers were in compliance with all of the applicable capital requirements.
Regulatory contractual relationships with FINRA. Our SROs have signed a series of regulatory service agreements covering the services FINRA provides to the respective SROs. Under these agreements, FINRA personnel act as our agents in performing the regulatory functions outlined above, and FINRA bills us a fee for these services. These agreements have enabled us to reduce our headcount while ensuring that the markets for which we are responsible are properly regulated. However, we have reduced the scope of services provided by FINRA under these regulatory services agreements and are performing certain of those regulatory functions directly. In addition, our SROs retain ultimate regulatory responsibility for all regulatory activities performed under these agreements by FINRA.
Exchange Act Rule 17d-2 permits SROs to enter into agreements, commonly called Rule 17d-2 agreements, approved by the SEC with respect to enforcement of common rules relating to common members. Our SROs have entered into several such agreements under which FINRA assumes regulatory responsibility for specifics covered by the agreement, including:
•agreements with FINRA covering the enforcement of common rules, the majority of which relate to the regulation of common members of our SROs and FINRA;
•joint industry agreements with FINRA covering responsibility for enforcement of insider trading rules;
•joint industry agreement with FINRA covering enforcement of rules related to cash equity sales practices and certain other non-market related rules; and
•joint industry agreement covering enforcement of rules related to options sales practices.
Regulation NMS and Options Intermarket Linkage Plan. We are subject to Regulation NMS for our cash equity markets, and our options markets have joined the Options Intermarket Linkage Plan. These are designed to facilitate the routing of orders among exchanges to create a national market system
as mandated by the Exchange Act. One of the principal purposes of a national market system is to assure that brokers may execute investors’ orders at the best market price. Both Regulation NMS and the Options Intermarket Linkage Plan require that exchanges avoid trade-throughs, locking or crossing of markets and provide market participants with electronic access to the best prices among the markets for the applicable cash equity or options order.
In addition, Regulation NMS requires that every national securities exchange on which an NMS stock is traded and every national securities association act jointly pursuant to one or more national market system plans to disseminate consolidated information, including a national best bid and national best offer, on quotations for transactions in NMS stocks, and that such plan or plans provide for the dissemination of all consolidated information for an individual NMS stock through a single plan processor.
The UTP Plan was filed with and approved by the SEC as a national market system plan in accordance with the Exchange Act and Regulation NMS to provide for the collection, consolidation and dissemination of such information for Nasdaq-listed securities. The Nasdaq Stock Market serves as the processor for the UTP Plan pursuant to a contract that was recently extended for a two-year term through October 2023. The Nasdaq Stock Market also serves as the administrator for the UTP Plan. To fulfill its obligations as the processor, The Nasdaq Stock Market has designed, implemented, maintained, and operated a data processing and communications system, hardware, software and communications infrastructure to provide processing for the UTP Plan. As the administrator, The Nasdaq Stock Market manages the distribution of market data, the collection of the resulting market data revenue, and the dissemination of that revenue to plan members in accordance with the terms of the UTP Plan and of Regulation NMS.
In May 2020, the SEC adopted an order to require changes to the governance of securities information processors. The SEC also approved, with material amendments, SRO proposed policies regarding the governance of these entities. In June and July 2020, we and several other exchanges petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review both the SEC’s governance order and its amendments to the SRO-proposed policies. In December 2020, the SEC adopted a rule to modify the infrastructure for the collection, consolidation and dissemination of market data for exchange-listed national market stocks, or NMS data. The rule changes include, among other things, requiring exchanges to add more “core data” to the securities information processors, including partial depth-of-book, certain odd-lot quotations/transactions, auction, regulatory, and administrative data; eliminating central, official consolidators of tape plans and enables multiple competing consolidators to register to aggregate and disseminate core data; and authorizing persons to purchase and aggregate core data directly from the exchanges for their own use. The rule implementation schedule has not yet been finalized by the SEC, and we are not certain of the timing, or
the impact, of these new rules on our business or role as a securities information processor. In February 2021, we petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the SEC’s rulemaking. In addition, we requested the SEC to stay implementation of the rule.
Regulation SCI. Regulation SCI is a set of rules designed to strengthen the technology infrastructure of the U.S. securities markets. Regulation SCI applies to national securities exchanges, operators of certain ATSs, market data information providers and clearing agencies, subjecting these entities to extensive new compliance obligations, with the goals of reducing the occurrence of technical issues that disrupt the securities markets and improving recovery time when disruptions occur. We implemented an inter-disciplinary program to ensure compliance with Regulation SCI. Regulation SCI policies and procedures were created, internal policies and procedures were updated, and an information technology governance program was developed to ensure compliance.
Regulation of Registered Investment Advisor Subsidiary. Our subsidiary NDW is an investment advisor registered with the SEC under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. In this capacity, NDW is subject to oversight and inspections by the SEC. Among other things, registered investment advisors like NDW must comply with certain disclosure obligations, advertising and fee restrictions and requirements relating to client suitability and custody of funds and securities. Registered investment advisors are also subject to anti-fraud provisions under both federal and state law.
CFTC Regulation. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also has resulted in increased CFTC regulation of our use of certain regulated derivatives products, as well as the operations of some of our subsidiaries outside the U.S. and their customers.
Regulation of Nasdaq Canada is performed by the Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella organization of Canada’s provincial and territorial securities regulators. As a recognized exchange in Ontario, Nasdaq Canada must comply with the terms and conditions of its exchange recognition order. While exempt from exchange recognition in each jurisdiction in Canada other than Ontario where Nasdaq Canada carries on business, Nasdaq must comply with the terms and conditions of an exemption order granted by the other jurisdictions. Oversight of the exchange is performed by Nasdaq Canada’s lead regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission. Additionally, Nasdaq Fixed Income provides access to Canadian-based “Permitted Clients” for trading non-Canadian fixed income securities and is subject to Canadian securities regulations in connection with providing these services.
Nasdaq Canada is subject to several national marketplace related instruments which set out requirements for marketplace operations, trading rules and managing
electronic trading risk. Exchange terms and conditions include but are not limited to, requirements for, governance, regulation, rules and rulemaking, fair access, conflict management and financial viability.
Regulation of our markets in the European Union and the European Economic Area focuses on matters relating to financial services, listing and trading of securities, clearing and settlement of securities and commodities as well as issues related to market abuse.
In July 2016, the European Union’s Market Abuse Regulation, which is intended to prevent market abuse, entered into force. MiFID II and MiFIR entered into force in January 2018 and primarily affect our European trading businesses. Many of the provisions of MiFID II and MiFIR are implemented through technical standards drafted by the European Securities and Markets Authority and approved by the European Commission. In addition, in 2016, the European Union adopted legislation on governance and control of the production and use of benchmark indexes. The Benchmark Regulation applies in the European Union from early 2018. However, due to transitional clauses in the Benchmark Regulation, Nasdaq as a benchmark provider, did not need to be in compliance with the Benchmark Regulation until January 1, 2020 in relation to benchmarks provided by Nasdaq’s European subsidiaries, or until January 1, 2024, in relation to benchmarks provided by non-European Nasdaq entities. As the regulatory environment continues to evolve and related opportunities arise, we intend to continue developing our products and services to ensure that the exchanges and clearinghouse that comprise Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic maintain favorable liquidity and offer fair and efficient trading.
The entities that operate trading venues in the Nordic and Baltic countries are each subject to local regulations. As a result, we have a strong local presence in each jurisdiction in which we operate regulated businesses. The regulated entities have decision-making power and can adopt policies and procedures and retain resources to manage all operations subject to their license. In Sweden, general supervision of the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange is carried out by the SFSA, while Nasdaq Clearing’s role as CCP in the clearing of derivatives is supervised by the SFSA and overseen by the Swedish central bank (Riksbanken). Additionally, as a function of the Swedish two-tier supervisory model, certain surveillance in relation to the exchange market is carried out by the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange, through its surveillance function.
Nasdaq Stockholm’s exchange activities are regulated primarily by the SSMA, which implements MiFID II into Swedish law and which sets up basic requirements regarding the board of the exchange and its share capital, and which also outlines the conditions on which exchange licenses are issued. The SSMA also provides that any changes to the exchange’s articles of association following initial
registration must be approved by the SFSA. Nasdaq Clearing holds the license as a CCP under EMIR.
With respect to ongoing operations, the SSMA requires exchanges to conduct their activities in an honest, fair and professional manner, and in such a way as to maintain public confidence in the securities markets. When operating a regulated market, an exchange must apply the principles of free access (i.e., that each person which meets the requirements established by law and by the exchange may participate in trading), neutrality (i.e., that the exchange’s rules for the regulated market are applied in a consistent manner to all those who participate in trading) and transparency (i.e., that the participants must be given speedy, simultaneous and correct information concerning trading and that the general public must be given the opportunity to access this information). Additionally, the exchange operator must identify and manage the risks that may arise in its operations, use secure technical systems and identify and handle the conflicts of interest that may arise between the exchange or its owners’ interests and the interest in safeguarding effective risk management and secure technical systems. Similar requirements are set up by EMIR in relation to clearing operations.
The SSMA also contains the framework for both the SFSA’s supervisory work in relation to exchanges and clearinghouses and the surveillance to be carried out by the exchanges themselves. The latter includes the requirement that an exchange should have “an independent surveillance function with sufficient resources and powers to meet the exchange’s obligations.” That requires the exchange to, among other things, supervise trading and price information, compliance with laws, regulations and good market practice, participant compliance with trading participation rules, financial instrument compliance with relevant listing rules and the extent to which issuers meet their obligation to submit regular financial information to relevant authorities.
The regulatory environment in the other Nordic and Baltic countries in which a Nasdaq entity has a trading venue is broadly similar to the regulatory environment in Sweden. Since 2005, there has been cooperation between the supervisory authorities in Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland, which looks to safeguard effective and comprehensive supervision of the exchanges comprising Nasdaq Nordic and the systems operated by it, and to ensure a common supervisory approach. In 2019, the supervisory authority in Norway joined this cooperation.
Nasdaq owns a central securities depository known as Nasdaq CSD SE (Societas Europaea)¸ that provides notary, settlement, central maintenance and other services in the Baltic countries and in Iceland. Nasdaq CSD SE is licensed under the European Central Securities Depositories Regulation and is supervised by the respective regulatory institutions.
We operate a licensed exchange, Nasdaq Oslo ASA, in Norway that trades and lists commodity derivatives. Although Norway is not a member of the EU, as a result of
the European Economic Area, or EEA, agreement (agreement on the EEA entered into between the EU and European Free Trade Association) the regulatory environment is broadly similar to what applies in EU member states. In addition, in January 2019 new legislation entered into force in Norway mirroring the provisions of MiFID II and MIFIR. As a result, the regulatory environment in Norway is similar to Sweden. The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway supervises the Norwegian exchange on an autonomous basis and the Norwegian exchange also has a separate market surveillance function overseen by the Financial Supervisory Authority.
Confidence in capital markets is paramount for trading to function properly. Nasdaq Nordic carries out market surveillance through an independent unit that is separate from the business operations. The surveillance work is conceptually organized into two functions: one for the review and admission of listing applications and surveillance activities related to issuers (issuer surveillance) and one for surveillance of trading (trading surveillance). The real-time trading surveillance for the Finnish, Icelandic, Danish and Swedish markets has been centralized to Stockholm. In addition, there are special personnel who carry out surveillance activities at Nasdaq Oslo and each of the three Baltic exchanges. In Finland and Sweden, decisions to list new companies on the main market are made by listing committees that have external members in addition to members from each respective exchange and in the other countries the decision is made by the respective president of the exchange.
If there is suspicion that a listed company or member has acted in breach of exchange regulations, the matter is handled by the respective surveillance department. Serious breaches are considered by the respective disciplinary committee in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. Suspected insider trading is reported to the appropriate authorities in the respective country.
In the United Kingdom, The Nasdaq Stock Market and Nasdaq Oslo ASA are each subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority as “Recognised Overseas Investment Exchanges.” Exchanges in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland have applied for status as “Recognised Overseas Investment Exchanges” and we expect these exchanges to receive such status during 2021. Pending approval, we are able to operate in the United Kingdom under the overseas person exemption. Nasdaq Clearing is registered as a recognized third country CCP with the Bank of England under the temporary recognition regime. The registration became effective on December 31, 2020, and lasts for three years. We will be applying for permanent recognition within eighteen months of the end of this implementation period.
Human Capital Management
Nasdaq’s commitment to, and investment in, attracting, retaining, developing and motivating its employees strengthened during 2020, and while the COVID-19 pandemic has created certain challenges for our employees, we have bolstered our human capital management efforts
throughout the past year. We have built on our existing foundation of striving to create a diverse and inclusive work environment of equal opportunity, where employees feel respected and valued for their contributions, and where Nasdaq and its employees have opportunities to make positive contributions to our local communities and to social justice initiatives.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 4,830 employees.
The Nominating & ESG Committee has formal responsibility and oversight for ESG policies and programs and receives regular reporting on key ESG matters and initiatives. Our internal ESG Working Group is co-chaired by executive leaders and comprised of geographically diverse representatives from multiple business units. The ESG Working Group serves as the central oversight body for our ESG strategy.
COVID-19 and Employee Safety
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the world, affecting all of our offices, we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and stakeholders, and complying with local government regulations in the areas in which we operate. This includes having the vast majority of our employees work from home, while implementing additional safety measures and precautions for employees continuing critical on-site work in certain of our offices. We have informed our employees that they may continue to work remotely through at least June 30, 2021, and we will continue to evaluate local conditions and regulations before we fully transition back to our offices.
Talent Management and Development
We continued to increase our efforts in attracting and retaining our employees.
Nasdaq seeks to hire world-class, innovative, and diverse talent across the globe. We recently strengthened our employer brand strategy with an updated “People Promise,” which encapsulates Nasdaq’s vision, mission, purpose and employment experience in order to become a leading company for highly sourced talent. In addition, we created a new diversity recruiting function to help us attract talent using innovative new techniques and channels.
We introduced new onboarding and exit surveys to better understand why employees join, and leave, Nasdaq. We conducted annual performance management, succession planning and advancement exercises to ensure we are aligning our employees with the right opportunities across the company. Additionally, we introduced a peer-to-peer employee recognition program. Finally, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, we reinvented our internship program to remotely welcome 151 interns to Nasdaq.
We have invested in professional development for our employees, including offering access to more than 14,000 professional development programs; providing tuition
assistance to employees enrolled in degree-granting academic programs; holding internal career fairs and career development programs; and providing one-on-one professional coaching opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusion
In 2020, we established three pillars to guide our diversity and inclusion efforts with our employees: Workforce, to ensure our employee population is representative of the communities in which we operate; Workplace, to ensure a positive workplace experience for all employees of Nasdaq; and Marketplace, to positively influence our peers in the capital market space and to invest in our local communities in which we operate.
Nasdaq sponsors eleven employee-led internal affinity networks. These networks include more than 1,500 employee members to support the diverse communities that comprise our workforce, and include networks for our Black, Asian American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, female, disabled, veteran, and parent/caregiver employees. The networks provide both formal and informal development programs and guidance for their members, and benefit the entire Nasdaq workforce through educational events, guest speakers, and volunteering opportunities.
We created a dedicated diversity recruiting function to further our recruiting efforts and enhance the representation of women and minorities at Nasdaq. In order to monitor our diversity efforts on an ongoing basis, each business unit has a dashboard reflecting the diversity of their employee population and can track changes on a monthly basis. We launched a new “Inclusive Leadership” training program for all employees, starting with our Chief Executive Officer and senior executives. We also added customized developmental programs for underrepresented talent, including executive mentoring and accelerated leadership development programs. Additionally, as a signatory to the Parity Pledge, we fulfilled our commitment to interview female candidates for all externally advertised roles at the Vice President level and above.
On a company-wide basis, as the social justice movement gained momentum in 2020, we hosted a series of educational discussions for all of our employees featuring internal and external guest speakers addressing racial dynamics in our society and fostering greater understanding in the workplace. In honor of Juneteenth, we debuted “Amplifying Black Voices,” a series of art by Black artists displayed on the Nasdaq Tower in New York’s Times Square.
Finally, Nasdaq published statistics on the composition of its own global workforce by gender, and of its U.S. workforce by gender, race and ethnicity, in our U.S. EEO-1 report and our Sustainability Report, which reports are available on our website.
Compensation and Benefits
Our Total Rewards compensation program is designed to attract, retain, and empower employees to successfully execute our growth strategy. Nasdaq’s balanced Total
Rewards program encourages decisions and behaviors that align with the short and long-term interests of our shareholders. The building blocks of our Total Rewards program are designed to promote and support our strategy and reinforce our cultural values of: Act as an Owner, Play as a Team, Fuel Client Success, Lead with Integrity, Expand Your Expertise, and Drive Innovation. Our Company values energize and align employees with the most important priorities, and encourage and reward high levels of performance, innovation and growth, while not promoting undue risk. Our compensation program seeks to retain our most talented employees in a highly dynamic, competitive talent market, while also engaging and exciting current and future employees who possess the leading skills and competencies needed for us to achieve our strategy and objectives. The Total Rewards compensation program is comprised of base salary, an annual cash bonus incentive program and long-term equity incentive awards. The long-term equity awards align our employee interests with our shareholders.
In addition to cash and equity compensation, we also offer employee benefits such as health (medical, dental, vision and telehealth) insurance, paid time off, paid parental leave, adoption assistance and a U.S. 401(k) Plan with company matching. We also introduced additional new benefits this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to help our employees with the additional stress in balancing their work and personal commitments, including providing “flex days” for additional time away from the office without requiring the usage of vacation or personal leave days, additional family care resources and benefits, including back-up childcare and other caregiver support, wellness benefits, and student loan repayment benefits. We also provide additional benefits to our international employees based on local regulations and practice to address market-specific needs.
We are committed to creating lasting, positive change within our Company and the communities we serve, and increased our community involvement during 2020, both as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened focus on social inequality in the United States.
Our employees take pride in being active in our communities. Through our Nasdaq GoodWorks Corporate Responsibility Program, we have committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work by providing eligible full and part-time employees two paid days off per year to volunteer. We also match charitable donations of all Nasdaq employees and contractors up to $1,000, or more in certain circumstances, per calendar year, and during 2020, we offered additional, higher matching programs for employee donations to global COVID-19 relief and response organizations and other charities selected by the Nasdaq employee networks. While most of our in-person volunteer efforts in 2020 pivoted to virtual volunteering events due to the pandemic, we still organized more than 90 volunteer events around the world,
and more than 260 associates volunteered and contributed over 2,600 service hours.
In 2020, we announced actions to strengthen our continued commitment to diversity and inclusion and donated an aggregate of $7 million, including $6 million in cash, to organizations serving underserved, minority communities in fighting the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. These organizations included the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP’s COVID-19 project and World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People. Additionally, we contributed $10 million to support the Nasdaq Foundation and plan to annually fund the Nasdaq Foundation with approximately one quarter of one percent of our operating profits beginning in 2021.
In September 2020, we launched the “Purpose Initiative,” which is designed to advance inclusive growth and prosperity. The Purpose Initiative comprises our philanthropic, community outreach, corporate sustainability, and employee volunteerism programs, all designed to leverage our unique place at the center of capital creation, markets, and technology and drive stronger economies, more equitable opportunities and contribute to a more sustainable world. We also relaunched the Nasdaq Foundation in September 2020, with a renewed mission focused on two primary goals: (i) reimagining investor engagement to equip under-represented communities with the financial knowledge to share in the wealth that markets create; and (ii) leveraging our investment in the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center alongside new strategic partnerships with organizations that can help build a deeper, data-led understanding of where the challenges are greatest, what existing efforts could be amplified, and how the Nasdaq Foundation can make new and distinctive contributions.
Nasdaq Website and Availability of SEC Filings
We file periodic reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that site is http://www.sec.gov.
Our website is http://ir.nasdaq.com. Information on our website is not a part of this Form 10-K. We make available free of charge on our website, or provide a link to, our Forms 10-K, Forms 10-Q and Forms 8-K and any amendments to these documents, that are filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. To access these filings, go to Nasdaq’s website and click on “Financials” then click on “SEC Filings.”
Item 1A. Risk Factors
The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also adversely affect our business. If any of
the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, or operating results could be adversely affected.
RISKS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY
The COVID-19 pandemic could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations.
We are continuing to closely monitor the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry and business in the United States and worldwide, including its effect on our customers, employees, vendors and other stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant volatility, uncertainty and economic disruption, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations.
While results in our Market Services segment were strong in 2020, reflecting elevated trading volumes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no assurance that such trading levels will continue. In our Corporate Platforms segment, while we have experienced strong demand for IPOs in 2020, we cannot predict whether investor demand for IPOs and new listings will continue in the future. We continue to observe that certain Market Technology customers are delaying purchasing decisions or extending implementation schedules. While our licensed ETPs, and in particular our Nasdaq-100 index, have grown due to the increases in the market and net inflows, there is no assurance that such AUM levels or volume trends will continue in the future.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant economic effects continue, existing customers in each of our segments may reduce or cancel spending for our products and services. Additionally, our sales pipeline with new client prospects may be further affected as new clients may delay or cancel purchase decisions while they evaluate the continuing impact of COVID-19.
In response to COVID-19, we have shifted to having a majority of our staff work from home and have added additional network capacity and monitoring. However, such remote work may cause heightened cybersecurity and operational risks. Certain of our global offices have re-opened on a limited basis, with applicable safety protocols in place, or expect to re-open subject to limitations during 2021. We could face disruption to our business or operations if a significant number of our employees or any of our key employees becomes ill due to the virus. We have filed a proposal with the SEC to amend Nasdaq PHLX’s business continuity plan to permit a virtual trading crowd, which would allow Nasdaq PHLX to operate its trading floor remotely in the event the physical trading floor becomes unavailable due to COVID-19. If our pending rule change is not approved by the SEC, and Nasdaq PHLX is unable to operate its physical trading floor due to COVID-19 or other restrictions, our revenue, market share and reputation may be adversely affected. If the rule change is approved by the SEC and we are unable to successfully operate the virtual trading
crowd in compliance with the SEC rules, our revenues and reputation may be harmed. Any disruption to our ability to deliver services to our clients could result in liability to our customers, regulatory fines, penalties or other sanctions, increased operational costs or harm to our reputation and brand. This, in turn, may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations will depend on future developments, which are uncertain and cannot be predicted, including the scope and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the length of time government, commercial and travel limitations are in place, the continued effectiveness of our remote work arrangements, actions taken by governmental authorities, regulators and other third parties in response to the pandemic, as well as other direct and indirect impacts on us, our exchanges, our customers, our vendors and other stakeholders.
Economic conditions and market factors, which are beyond our control, may adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Our business performance is impacted by a number of factors, including general economic conditions, market volatility, changes in investment patterns and priorities, pandemics and other factors that are generally beyond our control. To the extent that global or national economic conditions weaken and result in slower growth or recessions, our business is likely to be negatively impacted. Adverse market conditions could reduce customer demand for our services and the ability of our customers, lenders and other counterparties to meet their obligations to us. Poor economic conditions may result in a reduction in the demand for our products and services, including our market technology, data, indexes and IR & ESG Services, a decline in trading volumes or values and deterioration of the economic welfare of our listed companies.
Trading volumes and values are driven primarily by general market conditions and declines in trading volumes or values may affect our market share and impact our pricing. In addition, our Market Services businesses receive revenues from a relatively small number of customers concentrated in the financial industry, so any event that impacts one or more customers or the financial industry in general could impact our revenues.
The number of listings on our markets is primarily influenced by factors such as investor demand, the global economy, available sources of financing, and tax and regulatory policies. Adverse conditions may jeopardize the ability of our listed companies to comply with the continued listing requirements of our exchanges, or reduce the number of issuers launching IPOs, including SPACs, and direct listings.
Investment Intelligence revenues may be significantly affected by global economic conditions. Professional subscriptions to our data products are at risk if staff
reductions occur in financial services companies or if our customers consolidate, which could result in significant reductions in our professional user revenue or expose us to increased risks relating to dependence on a smaller number of customers. In addition, adverse market conditions may cause reductions in the number of non-professional investors with investments in the market and in ETP AUM tracking Nasdaq indexes as well as trading in futures linked to Nasdaq indexes.
There may be less demand for our IR & ESG Services or Market Technology products if global economic conditions are weak. Our customers historically cut back on purchases of new services and technology when growth rates decline, thereby reducing our opportunities to sell new products and services or upgrade existing products and services.
A reduction in trading volumes or values, market share of trading, the number of our listed companies, or demand for Investment Intelligence, Market Technology or Corporate Platforms products and services due to economic conditions or other market factors could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
The industries we operate in are highly competitive.
We face significant competition in our Market Technology, Investment Intelligence and Corporate Platforms businesses from other market participants. We face intense competition from other exchanges and markets for market share of trading activity and listings. This competition includes both product and price competition.
The liberalization and globalization of world markets has resulted in greater mobility of capital, greater international participation in local markets and more competition. As a result, both in the U.S. and in other countries, the competition among exchanges and other execution venues has become more intense. Marketplaces in both Europe and the U.S. have also merged to achieve greater economies of scale and scope.
Regulatory changes also have facilitated the entry of new participants in the European Union that compete with our European markets. The regulatory environment, both in the U.S. and in Europe, is structured to maintain this environment of intense competition. In addition, a high proportion of business in the securities markets is becoming concentrated in a smaller number of institutions and our revenue may therefore become concentrated in a smaller number of customers.
We also compete globally with other regulated exchanges and markets, ATSs, MTFs and other traditional and non-traditional execution venues. Some of these competitors also are our customers. In addition, competitors recently have launched new exchanges in the U.S., including an exchange established by a group of our customers. Competitors may develop market trading platforms that are more competitive than ours. Competitors may leverage data more effectively or enter into strategic partnerships, mergers or acquisitions that could make their trading, listings, clearing, data or technology businesses more competitive than ours.
We face intense price competition in all areas of our business. In particular, the trading industry is characterized by price competition. We have in the past lowered prices, and in the U.S., increased rebates for trade executions to attempt to gain or maintain market share. These strategies have not always been successful and have at times hurt operating performance. Additionally, we have also been, and may once again be, required to adjust pricing to respond to actions by competitors and new entrants, or due to new SEC regulations, which could adversely impact operating results. We also compete with respect to the pricing of data products and with respect to products for pre-trade book data and for post-trade last sale data. In addition, pricing in our Corporate Platforms, Index and Market Technology businesses is subject to competitive pressures.
If we are unable to compete successfully in the industries in which we do business, our business, financial condition and operating results will be adversely affected.
System limitations or failures could harm our business.
Our businesses depend on the integrity and performance of the technology, computer and communications systems supporting them. If new systems fail to operate as intended or our existing systems cannot expand to cope with increased demand or otherwise fail to perform, we could experience unanticipated disruptions in service, slower response times and delays in the introduction of new products and services. These consequences could result in service outages, lower trading volumes or values, financial losses, decreased customer satisfaction and regulatory sanctions. Our markets and the markets that rely on our technology have experienced systems failures and delays in the past and could experience future systems failures and delays.
Although we currently maintain and expect to maintain multiple computer facilities that are designed to provide redundancy and back-up to reduce the risk of system disruptions and have facilities in place that are expected to maintain service during a system disruption, such systems and facilities may prove inadequate. If trading volumes increase unexpectedly or other unanticipated events occur, we may need to expand and upgrade our technology, transaction processing systems and network infrastructure. We do not know whether we will be able to accurately project the rate, timing or cost of any volume increases, or expand and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to accommodate any increases in a timely manner.
While we have programs in place to identify and minimize our exposure to vulnerabilities and work in collaboration with the technology industry to share corrective measures with our business partners, we cannot guarantee that such events will not occur in the future. Any system issue that causes an interruption in services, decreases the responsiveness of our services or otherwise affects our services could impair our reputation, damage our brand name and negatively impact our business, financial condition and operating results.
We must continue to introduce new products, initiatives and enhancements to maintain our competitive position.
We intend to launch new products and initiatives and continue to explore and pursue opportunities to strengthen our business and grow our company. We may spend substantial time and money developing new products, initiatives and enhancements to existing products. If these products and initiatives are not successful, we may not be able to offset their costs, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
In our technology operations, we have invested substantial amounts in the development of system platforms, the rollout of our platforms and the adoption of new technologies. Although investments are carefully planned, there can be no assurance that the demand for such platforms or technologies will justify the related investments. If we fail to generate adequate revenue from planned system platforms or the adoption of new technologies, or if we fail to do so within the envisioned timeframe, it could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, clients may delay purchases in anticipation of new products or enhancements. Additionally, it is also possible that we may allocate significant amounts of cash and other resources to product technologies or business models for which market demand is lower than anticipated. In addition, the introduction of new products by competitors, the emergence of new industry standards or the development of entirely new technologies to replace existing product offerings could render our existing or future products obsolete.
A decline in trading and clearing volumes or values or market share will decrease our trading and clearing revenues.
Trading and clearing volumes and values are directly affected by economic, political and market conditions, broad trends in business and finance, unforeseen market closures or other disruptions in trading, the level and volatility of interest rates, inflation, changes in price levels of securities and the overall level of investor confidence. In recent years, and particularly in 2020, trading and clearing volumes and values across our markets have fluctuated significantly depending on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Current initiatives being considered by regulators and governments could have a material adverse effect on overall trading and clearing volumes or values. Because a significant percentage of our revenues is tied directly to the volume or value of securities traded and cleared on our markets, it is likely that a general decline in trading and clearing volumes or values would lower revenues and may adversely affect our operating results if we are unable to offset falling volumes or values through pricing changes. Declines in trading and clearing volumes or values may also impact our market share or pricing structures and adversely affect our business and financial condition.
If our total market share in securities decreases relative to our competitors, our venues may be viewed as less attractive sources of liquidity. If our exchanges are perceived to be less
liquid, then our business, financial condition and operating results could be adversely affected.
Since some of our exchanges offer clearing services in addition to trading services, a decline in market share of trading could lead to a decline in clearing and depository revenues. Declines in market share also could result in issuers viewing the value of a listing on our exchanges as less attractive, thereby adversely affecting our listing business. Finally, declines in market share of Nasdaq-listed securities, or recently adopted SEC rules and regulations, could lower The Nasdaq Stock Market’s share of tape pool revenues under the consolidated data plans, thereby reducing the revenues of our Market Data business.
Our role in the global marketplace may place us at greater risk for a cyberattack.
Our systems and operations are vulnerable to damage or interruption from security breaches. Due to COVID-19, most of our workforce may continue to work from home, creating a broader and more distributed network footprint and increased reliance on the home networks of employees. Some of these threats include attacks from foreign governments, hacktivists, insiders and criminal organizations. Foreign governments may seek to obtain a foothold in U.S. critical infrastructure, hacktivists may seek to deploy denial of service attacks to bring attention to their cause, insiders may pose a risk by human error or malicious activity and criminal organizations may seek to profit from stolen data. Computer viruses and worms also continue to be a threat with ransomware increasingly being used by criminals to extort money. Given our position in the global securities industry, we may be more likely than other companies to be a direct target, or an indirect casualty, of such events.
While we continue to employ resources to monitor our systems and protect our infrastructure, these measures may prove insufficient depending upon the attack or threat posed. Any system issue, whether as a result of an intentional breach, collateral damage from a new virus or a non-malicious act, could damage our reputation and cause us to lose customers, experience lower trading volumes or values, incur significant liabilities or otherwise have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and operating results. Any system breach may go undetected for an extended period of time. As cybersecurity threats continue to increase in frequency and sophistication, and as the domestic and international regulatory and compliance structure related to information security, data privacy and data usage becomes increasingly complex and exacting, we may be required to devote significant additional resources to strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities, and to identify and remediate any security vulnerabilities, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition and operating results.
The success of our business depends on our ability to keep up with rapid technological and other competitive changes affecting our industry. Specifically, we must complete development of, successfully implement and maintain platforms that have the functionality, performance,
capacity, reliability and speed required by our business and our regulators, as well as by our customers.
The markets in which we compete are characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving industry and regulatory standards, frequent enhancements to existing products and services, the adoption of new services and products and changing customer demands. We are reliant on our customers that purchase our on-premise solutions to maintain a certain level of network infrastructure for our products to operate and to allow for our support of those products, and there is no assurance that a customer will implement such measures. We may not be able to keep up with rapid technological and other competitive changes affecting our industry. For example, we must continue to enhance our platforms to remain competitive as well as to address our regulatory responsibilities, and our business will be negatively affected if our platforms or the technology solutions we sell to our customers fail to function as expected. If we are unable to develop our platforms to include other products and markets, or if our platforms do not have the required functionality, performance, capacity, reliability and speed required by our business and our regulators, as well as by our customers, we may not be able to compete successfully. Further, our failure to anticipate or respond adequately to changes in technology and customer preferences or any significant delays in product development efforts, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our clearinghouse operations expose us to risks, including credit or liquidity risks that may include defaults by clearing members, or insufficiencies in margins or default funds.
We are subject to risks relating to our operation of a clearinghouse, including counterparty and liquidity risks, risk of defaults by clearing members and risks associated with adequacy of the customer margin and of default funds. Our clearinghouse operations expose us to counterparties with differing risk profiles. We may be adversely impacted by the financial distress or failure of a clearing member, which may cause us negative financial impact, reputational harm or regulatory consequences, including litigation or regulatory enforcement actions.
In September 2018, a member of the Nasdaq Clearing commodities market defaulted due to an inability to post sufficient collateral to cover increased margin requirements for the positions of the relevant member. For further discussion of the default, see Note 15, “Clearing Operations,” to the consolidated financial statements. There are no assurances that similar defaults will not occur again, which could result in losses. To the extent that our regulatory capital and risk management policies are not adequate to manage future financial and operational risks in our clearinghouse, we may experience adverse consequences to our operating results or ability to conduct our business.
We are exposed to credit risk from third parties, including customers, counterparties and clearing agents.
We are exposed to credit risk from third parties, including customers, counterparties and clearing agents. These parties may default on their obligations to us due to the effects of COVID-19 on their business, bankruptcy, lack of liquidity, operational failure or other reasons.
We clear a range of equity-related and fixed-income-related derivative products, commodities and resale and repurchase agreements. We assume the counterparty risk for all transactions that are cleared through Nasdaq Clearing on our markets and guarantee that our cleared contracts will be honored. We enforce minimum financial and operational criteria for membership eligibility, require members and investors to provide collateral, and maintain established risk policies and procedures to ensure that the counterparty risks are properly monitored and proactively managed; however, none of these measures provides absolute assurance against experiencing financial losses from defaults by our counterparties on their obligations. No guarantee can be given that the collateral provided will at all times be sufficient. Although we maintain clearing capital resources to serve as an additional layer of protection to help ensure that we are able to meet our obligations, these resources may not be sufficient.
In addition, one of our broker-dealer subsidiaries, Execution Access, has a clearing arrangement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Financial Services LLC, or ICBC. As of December 31, 2020, we have contributed $13 million of clearing deposits to ICBC in connection with this clearing arrangement. Some of the trading activity in Execution Access is cleared by ICBC through the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation. Execution Access assumes the counterparty risk of clients that do not clear through the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation. Counterparty risk of clients exists for Execution Access between the trade date and settlement date of the individual transactions, which is at least one business day (or more, if specified by the U.S. Treasury issuance calendar). Counterparties that do not clear through the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation are subject to a credit due diligence process and may be required to post collateral, provide principal letters, or provide other forms of credit enhancement to Execution Access for the purpose of mitigating counterparty risk. Daily position trading limits are also enforced for such counterparties. Although we believe that the potential for us to be required to make payments under these arrangements is mitigated through the pledged collateral and our risk management policies, no guarantee can be provided that these arrangements will at all times be sufficient.
We also have credit risk related to transaction and subscription-based revenues that are billed to customers on a monthly or quarterly basis, in arrears.
Credit losses such as those described above could adversely affect our consolidated financial position and results of operations.
Technology issues relating to our role as exclusive processor for Nasdaq-listed stocks could affect our business.
Nasdaq, as technology provider to the UTP Operating Committee, has implemented measures to enhance the resiliency of the existing processor system. Nasdaq transferred the processor technology platform to our INET platform and this migration further enhanced the resiliency of the processor systems. We further improved the systems' resiliency by adding the UTP SnapShot service. However, if future outages occur or the processor systems fail to function properly while we are operating the systems, it could have an adverse effect on our business, reputation and financial condition.
Stagnation or decline in the listings market could have an adverse effect on our revenues.
The market for listings is dependent on the prosperity of companies and the availability of risk capital. A stagnation or decline in the number of new listings, or an increase in the number of delistings, on The Nasdaq Stock Market and the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges could cause a decrease in revenues for future years. Furthermore, a prolonged decrease in the number of listings could negatively impact the growth of our transactions revenues. Our IR & ESG Services business is also impacted by declines in the listings market or increases in acquisitions activity as there will be fewer publicly-traded customers that need our products.
RISKS RELATED TO TRANSACTIONAL ACTIVITIES AND STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
We may not be able to successfully integrate acquired businesses, which may result in an inability to realize the anticipated benefits of our acquisitions.
We must rationalize, coordinate and integrate the operations of our acquired businesses. This process involves complex technological, operational and personnel-related challenges, which are time-consuming and expensive and may disrupt our business. The difficulties, costs and delays that could be encountered may include:
•difficulties, costs or complications in combining the companies’ operations, including technology platforms, which could lead to us not achieving the synergies we anticipate or customers not renewing their contracts with us as we migrate platforms;
•incompatibility of systems and operating methods;
•reliance on, or provision of, transition services;
•inability to use capital assets efficiently to develop the business of the combined company;
•difficulties of complying with government-imposed regulations in the U.S. and abroad, which may be conflicting;
•resolving possible inconsistencies in standards, controls, procedures and policies, business cultures and compensation structures;
•the diversion of management’s attention from ongoing business concerns and other strategic opportunities;
•difficulties in operating businesses we have not operated before;
•difficulties of integrating multiple acquired businesses simultaneously;
•the retention of key employees and management;
•the implementation of disclosure controls, internal controls and financial reporting systems at non-U.S. subsidiaries to enable us to comply with U.S. GAAP and U.S. securities laws and regulations, including the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, required as a result of our status as a reporting company under the Exchange Act;
•the coordination of geographically separate organizations;
•the coordination and consolidation of ongoing and future research and development efforts;
•possible tax costs or inefficiencies associated with integrating the operations of a combined company;
•pre-tax restructuring and revenue investment costs;
•the retention of strategic partners and attracting new strategic partners; and
•negative impacts on employee morale and performance as a result of job changes and reassignments.
Foreign acquisitions involve risks in addition to those mentioned above, including those related to integration of operations across different cultures and languages, our ability to enforce contracts in various jurisdictions, currency risks and the particular economic, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries. We may not be able to address these risks successfully, or at all, without incurring significant costs, delays or other operating problems that could disrupt our business and have a material adverse effect on our financial condition.
For these reasons, we may not achieve the anticipated financial and strategic benefits from our acquisitions and strategic initiatives. Any actual cost savings and synergies may be lower than we expect and may take a longer time to achieve than we anticipate, and we may fail to realize the anticipated benefits of acquisitions.
We may be required to recognize impairments of our goodwill, intangible assets or other long-lived assets in the future.
Our business acquisitions typically result in the recording of goodwill and intangible assets, and the recorded values of those assets may become impaired in the future. As of December 31, 2020, goodwill totaled $6.9 billion and intangible assets, net of accumulated amortization, totaled
$2.3 billion. The determination of the value of such goodwill and intangible assets requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect our consolidated financial statements.
We assess goodwill and intangible assets, as well as other long-lived assets, including equity method investments, equity securities, and property and equipment, for potential impairment on an annual basis or more frequently if indicators of impairment arise. We estimate the fair value of such assets by assessing many factors, including historical performance and projected cash flows. Considerable management judgment is necessary to project future cash flows and evaluate the impact of expected operating and macroeconomic changes on these cash flows. The estimates and assumptions we use are consistent with our internal planning process. However, there are inherent uncertainties in these estimates.
There was no impairment of goodwill for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, and there were no indefinite-lived intangible asset impairment charges in 2020, 2019 and 2018.
We may experience future events that may result in asset impairments. Future disruptions to our business, prolonged economic weakness, due to COVID-19 or otherwise, or significant declines in operating results at any of our reporting units or businesses, may result in impairment charges to goodwill, intangible assets or other long-lived assets. A significant impairment charge in the future could have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
Acquisitions, divestments, investments, joint ventures and other transactional activities may require significant resources and/or result in significant unanticipated losses, costs or liabilities.
Over the past several years, acquisitions have been significant factors in our growth. We have, and may continue to, divest additional businesses or assets in the future. Although we cannot predict our transactional activities, we believe that additional acquisitions, divestments, investments, joint ventures and other transactional activities will be important to our strategy. Such transactions may be material in size and scope. Many of the other potential purchasers of assets in our industry have greater financial resources than we have. Therefore, we cannot be sure that we will be able to complete future transactions on terms favorable to us.
We also invest in early-stage companies through our Nasdaq Venture program and hold minority interests in other entities. Given the size of these investments, we do not have operational control of these entities and may have limited visibility into risk management practices. Thus, we may be subject to additional capital requirements in certain circumstances and financial and reputational risks if there are operational failures.
We may finance future transactions by issuing additional equity and/or debt. The issuance of additional equity in connection with any such transaction could be substantially
dilutive to existing shareholders. In addition, the announcement or implementation of future transactions by us or others could have a material effect on the price of our common stock. The issuance of additional debt could increase our leverage substantially. We could face financial risks associated with incurring additional debt, particularly if the debt results in significant incremental leverage. Additional debt may reduce our liquidity, curtail our access to financing markets, impact our standing with credit rating agencies and increase the cash flow required for debt service. Any incremental debt incurred to finance a transaction could also place significant constraints on the operation of our business.
Furthermore, any future transactions could entail a number of additional risks, including:
•the inability to maintain key pre-transaction business relationships;
•increased operating costs;
•the inability to meet our target for return on invested capital;
•increased debt obligations, which may adversely affect our targeted debt ratios;
•risks to the continued achievement of our strategic direction;
•risks associated with divesting employees, customers or vendors when divesting businesses or assets;
•declines in the value of investments;
•exposure to unanticipated liabilities, including after a transaction is completed;
•incurred but unreported claims for an acquired company;
•difficulties in realizing projected efficiencies, synergies and cost savings; and
•changes in our credit rating and financing costs.
Charges to earnings resulting from acquisition, integration and restructuring costs may materially adversely affect the market value of our common stock.
In accordance with U.S. GAAP, we account for the completion of our acquisitions using the acquisition method of accounting. We allocate the total estimated purchase price to net tangible and identifiable intangible assets based on their fair values as of the date of completion of the acquisition and record the excess of the purchase price over those fair values as goodwill. Our financial results, including earnings per share, could be adversely affected by a number of financial adjustments including the following:
•we may incur additional amortization expense over the estimated useful lives of certain of the intangible assets acquired in connection with acquisitions during such estimated useful lives;
•we may have additional depreciation expense as a result of recording acquired tangible assets at fair value, in accordance with U.S. GAAP, as compared to book value as recorded;
•to the extent the value of goodwill or intangible assets becomes impaired, we may be required to incur material charges relating to the impairment of those assets;
•we may incur additional costs from integrating our acquisitions. The success of our acquisitions depends, in part, on our ability to integrate these businesses into our existing operations and realize anticipated cost savings, revenue synergies and growth opportunities; and
•we may incur restructuring costs in connection with the reorganization of any of our businesses.
RISKS RELATED TO LEGAL AND REGULATORY MATTERS
We operate in a highly regulated industry and may be subject to censures, fines and enforcement proceedings if we fail to comply with regulatory obligations that can be ambiguous and can change unexpectedly.
We operate in a highly regulated industry and are subject to extensive regulation in the U.S., Europe and Canada. The securities trading industry is subject to significant regulatory oversight and could be subject to increased governmental and public scrutiny in the future that can change in response to global conditions and events, or due to changes in trading patterns, such as due to the recent volatility involving the trading of certain stocks.
Our ability to comply with complex and changing regulation is largely dependent on our establishment and maintenance of compliance, audit and reporting systems that can quickly adapt and respond, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance and other risk management personnel. There is no assurance that our policies and procedures will always be effective or that we will always be successful in monitoring or evaluating the risks to which we are or may be exposed.
Our regulated markets are subject to audits, investigations, administrative proceedings and enforcement actions relating to compliance with applicable rules and regulations. Regulators have broad powers to impose fines, penalties or censure, issue cease-and-desist orders, prohibit operations, revoke licenses or registrations and impose other sanctions on our exchanges, broker-dealers, central securities depositories, clearinghouse and markets for violations of applicable requirements.
In the future, we could be subject to regulatory investigations or enforcement proceedings that could result in substantial sanctions, including revocation of our operating licenses. Any such investigations or proceedings, whether successful or unsuccessful, could result in substantial costs, the diversion of resources, including management time, and potential harm to our reputation, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or
financial condition. In addition, our exchanges could be required to modify or restructure their regulatory functions in response to any changes in the regulatory environment, or they may be required to rely on third parties to perform regulatory and oversight functions, each of which may require us to incur substantial expenses and may harm our reputation if our regulatory services are deemed inadequate.
The regulatory framework under which we operate and new regulatory requirements or new interpretations of existing regulatory requirements could require substantial time and resources for compliance, which could make it difficult and costly for us to operate our business.
Under current U.S. federal securities laws, changes in the rules and operations of our securities markets, including our pricing structure, must be reviewed and in many cases explicitly approved by the SEC. The SEC may approve, disapprove, or recommend changes to proposals that we submit. In addition, the SEC may delay either the approval process or the initiation of the public comment process. Favorable SEC rulings and interpretations can be challenged in and reversed by federal courts of appeals, reducing or eliminating the value of such prior interpretations. Any delay in approving changes, or the altering of any proposed change, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
We must compete not only with ATSs that are not subject to the same SEC approval process but also with other exchanges that may have lower regulation and surveillance costs than us. There is a risk that trading will shift to exchanges that charge lower fees because, among other reasons, they spend significantly less on regulation.
In 2016, the SEC approved a plan for Nasdaq and other exchanges to establish a CAT, to improve regulators’ ability to monitor trading activity. In addition to increased regulatory obligations, implementation of a consolidated audit trail has resulted in significant additional expenditures, including to implement the new technology to meet any plan’s requirements. Creating CAT has required the development and implementation of complex and costly technology. This development effort has been funded by the SROs (including Nasdaq) in exchange for promissory notes that Nasdaq expects to be repaid at such time that the SEC approves the assessment of fees for the funding of CAT. The SEC could determine not to approve the assessment of such fees in which case some or all of the promissory notes would not be repaid. In addition, the ongoing failure to timely launch or properly operate such technology exposes Nasdaq and other exchanges to SEC fines.
In addition, our registered broker-dealer subsidiaries are subject to regulation by the SEC, FINRA and other SROs. These subsidiaries are subject to regulatory requirements intended to ensure their general financial soundness and liquidity, which require that they comply with certain minimum capital requirements. The SEC and FINRA impose rules that require notification when a broker-dealer’s net capital falls below certain predefined criteria, dictate the ratio
of debt to equity in the regulatory capital composition of a broker-dealer and constrain the ability of a broker-dealer to expand its business under certain circumstances. Additionally, the SEC’s Uniform Net Capital Rule and FINRA rules impose certain requirements that may have the effect of prohibiting a broker-dealer from distributing or withdrawing capital and requiring prior notice to the SEC and FINRA for certain withdrawals of capital. Any failure to comply with these broker-dealer regulations could have a material adverse effect on the operation of our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our non-U.S. business is subject to regulatory oversight in all the countries in which we operate regulated businesses, such as exchanges, clearinghouses or central securities depositories. In these countries, we have received authorization from the relevant authorities to conduct our regulated business activities. The authorities may issue regulatory fines or may ultimately revoke our authorizations if we do not suitably carry out our regulated business activities. The authorities are also entitled to request that we adopt measures in order to ensure that we continue to fulfill the authorities’ requirements. Additionally, we are subject to the obligations under the Benchmark Regulation ((EU) 2016/1011), compliance with which could be costly or cause a change in our business practices.
Furthermore, certain of our customers operate in a highly regulated industry. Regulatory authorities could impose regulatory changes that could impact the ability of our customers to use our exchanges. The loss of a significant number of customers or a reduction in trading activity on any of our exchanges as a result of such changes could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Regulatory changes and changes in market structure and proprietary data could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Regulatory changes adopted by the SEC or other regulators of our markets, and regulatory changes that our markets may adopt in fulfillment of their regulatory obligations, could materially affect our business operations. In recent years, there has been increased regulatory and governmental focus on issues affecting the securities markets, including market structure, technological oversight and fees for proprietary market data, connectivity and transactions. The SEC, FINRA and the national securities exchanges have introduced several initiatives to ensure the oversight, integrity and resilience of markets.
With respect to our regulated businesses, our business model can be severely impacted by policy decisions. In May 2020, the SEC adopted a rule to require changes to the governance of securities information processors. In December 2020, the SEC adopted a rule to modify the infrastructure for the collection, consolidation and dissemination of market data for exchange-listed national market stocks. If either or both of these rules are fully implemented, they may adversely affect our revenues. The timing for the implementation of these
rules is currently unknown, and we believe they may take two to three years to fully implement. If the rules are ultimately implemented as set forth in their adopting releases, demand for certain of our proprietary tape share data products may be reduced, or we may have to reduce our pricing to compete with other entrants into the market for consolidated data. Our opponents in some markets are larger and better funded and, if successful in influencing certain policies, may successfully advocate for positions that adversely impact our business. These regulatory changes could impose significant costs, including litigation costs, and other obligations on the operation of our exchanges and processor systems and have other impacts on our business.
In Canada, all new marketplace fees and changes to existing fees, including trading and market data fees, must be filed with and approved by the Ontario Securities Commission. The Canadian Securities Administrators adopted a Data Fees Methodology that restricts the total amount of fees that can be charged by all marketplaces to a reference benchmark. Currently, all marketplaces are subject to annual reviews of their market data fees tying market data revenues to pre- and post- trade market share metrics. Permitted fee ranges are based on an interim domestic benchmark that is subject to change to an international benchmark, which could lower the permitted fees charged by marketplaces, which could adversely impact our revenues.
Our European exchanges currently offer market data products to customers on a non-discriminatory and reasonable commercial basis. The MiFID II/MiFIR rules entail that the price for regulated market data such as pre- and post-trade data shall be based on cost plus a reasonable margin. However, these terms are not clearly defined. There is a risk that a different interpretation of these terms may influence the fees for European market data products adversely. In addition, any future actions by European Union institutions could affect our ability to offer market data products in the same manner as today, thereby causing an adverse effect on our market data revenues.
We are subject to litigation risks and other liabilities.
Many aspects of our business potentially involve substantial liability risks. Although under current law we are immune from private suits arising from conduct within our regulatory authority and from acts and forbearances incident to the exercise of our regulatory authority, this immunity only covers certain of our activities in the U.S., and we could be exposed to liability under national and local laws, court decisions and rules and regulations promulgated by regulatory agencies.
Some of our other liability risks arise under the laws and regulations relating to the tax, employment, intellectual property, anti-money laundering, technology export, foreign asset controls, foreign corrupt practices, employee labor and employment areas, including anti-discrimination and fair-pay laws and regulations.
Liability could also result from disputes over the terms of a trade, claims that a system failure or delay cost a customer money, claims we entered into an unauthorized transaction or claims that we provided materially false or misleading statements in connection with a securities transaction. As we intend to defend any such litigation actively, significant legal expenses could be incurred. Although we carry insurance that may limit our risk of damages in some cases, we still may sustain uncovered losses or losses in excess of available insurance that would affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We have self-regulatory obligations and also operate for-profit businesses, and these two roles may create conflicts of interest.
We have obligations to regulate and monitor activities on our markets and ensure compliance with applicable law and the rules of our markets by market participants and listed companies. In the U.S., some have expressed concern about potential conflicts of interest of “for-profit” markets performing the regulatory functions of an SRO. We perform regulatory functions and bear regulatory responsibility related to our listed companies and our markets. Any failure by us to diligently and fairly regulate our markets or to otherwise fulfill our regulatory obligations could significantly harm our reputation, prompt SEC scrutiny and adversely affect our business and reputation.
Our Nordic and Baltic exchanges monitor trading and compliance with listing standards in accordance with the European Union’s Market Abuse Regulation and other applicable laws. The prime objective of such monitoring activities is to promote confidence in the exchanges among the general public and to ensure fair and orderly functioning markets. The monitoring functions within the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges are the responsibility of the surveillance departments or other surveillance personnel. The surveillance departments or personnel are intended to strengthen the integrity of and confidence in these exchanges and to avoid conflicts of interest. Any failure to diligently and fairly regulate the Nordic and Baltic exchanges could significantly harm our reputation, prompt scrutiny from regulators and adversely affect our business and reputation.
Laws and regulations regarding the handling of personal data and information may affect our services or result in increased costs, legal claims or fines against us.
Our business relies on the processing of data in many jurisdictions and the movement of data, including personal data, across national borders. Legal and contractual requirements relating to the collection, storage, handling, use, disclosure, transfer and security of personal data continue to evolve; regulatory scrutiny and customer requirements in this area are increasing around the world. Significant uncertainty exists as privacy and data protection laws may be interpreted and applied differently across jurisdictions and may create inconsistent or conflicting requirements with privacy and other laws to which we are subject.
Laws and regulations such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, can have application and effect beyond their territorial limits, and require companies to meet new requirements regarding the handling of personal data. In addition to directly applying to certain Nasdaq business activities, these laws impact many of our customers, which may affect their requirements and decisions related to services that we offer. Our efforts to comply with GDPR, CCPA and other privacy and data protection laws may entail substantial expenses, may divert resources from other initiatives and projects, and could impact the services that we offer. Furthermore, enforcement actions and investigations by regulatory authorities, as well as third party litigation, related to data security incidents and privacy violations continue to increase. The enactment of more restrictive laws, rules or regulations, future enforcement actions or investigations, or the creation of new rights to pursue damages could impact us through increased costs or restrictions on our business, and noncompliance could result in regulatory penalties and significant legal liability.
Changes in tax laws, regulations or policies could have a material adverse effect on our financial results.
Like other corporations, we are subject to taxes at the federal, state and local levels, as well as in non-U.S. jurisdictions. Changes in tax laws, regulations or policies could result in us having to pay higher taxes, which may reduce our net income, or could adversely affect our ability to continue our capital allocation program or effect strategic transactions in a tax-favorable manner. In addition, such changes, including federal or state financial transaction taxes, may increase the cost of our offerings or services, which may cause our clients to reduce their use of our services.
In addition, some of our subsidiaries are subject to tax in the jurisdictions in which they are organized or operate. In computing our tax obligation in these jurisdictions, we take various tax positions. We cannot ensure that upon review of these positions, the applicable authorities will agree with our positions. A successful challenge by a tax authority could result in additional taxes imposed on our clients or our subsidiaries.
RISKS RELATED TO LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
Our credit rating could increase the cost of our funding from the capital markets.
Our debt is currently rated investment grade by two of the major rating agencies. These rating agencies regularly evaluate us, and their ratings of our long-term debt and commercial paper are based on a number of factors, including our financial strength and corporate development activity, as well as factors not entirely within our control, including conditions affecting our industry generally. There can be no assurance that we will maintain our current ratings. Our failure to maintain such ratings could reduce or eliminate our ability to issue commercial paper and adversely affect the
cost and other terms upon which we are able to obtain funding and increase our cost of capital. A reduction in credit ratings would also result in increases in the cost of our commercial paper and other outstanding debt as the interest rate on the outstanding amounts under our credit facilities and our senior notes fluctuates based on our credit ratings.
Our leverage limits our financial flexibility, increases our exposure to weakening economic conditions and may adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing.
Our indebtedness as of December 31, 2020 was $5.5 billion. We may borrow additional amounts by utilizing available liquidity under our existing credit facilities, issuing additional debt securities or issuing short-term, unsecured commercial paper notes through our commercial paper program.
Our leverage could:
•reduce funds available to us for operations and general corporate purposes or for capital expenditures as a result of the dedication of a substantial portion of our consolidated cash flow from operations to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness;
•increase our exposure to a continued downturn in general economic conditions;
•place us at a competitive disadvantage compared with our competitors with less debt;
•affect our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for refinancing indebtedness, acquisitions, working capital, capital expenditures or other purposes; and
•increase our cost of debt and reduce or eliminate our ability to issue commercial paper.
In addition, we must comply with the covenants in our credit facilities. Among other things, these covenants restrict our ability to effect certain fundamental transactions, dispose of certain assets, incur additional indebtedness and grant liens on assets. Failure to meet any of the covenant terms of our credit facilities could result in an event of default. If an event of default occurs, and we are unable to receive a waiver of default, our lenders may increase our borrowing costs, restrict our ability to obtain additional borrowings and accelerate all amounts outstanding.
We will need to invest in our operations to maintain and grow our business and to integrate acquisitions, and we may need additional funds, which may not be readily available.
We depend on the availability of adequate capital to maintain and develop our business. Although we believe that we can meet our current capital requirements from internally generated funds, cash on hand and borrowings under our revolving credit facility and commercial paper program, if the capital and credit markets experience volatility, access to capital or credit may not be available on terms acceptable to us or at all. Limited access to capital or credit in the future could have an impact on our ability to refinance debt,
maintain our credit rating, meet our regulatory capital requirements, engage in strategic initiatives, make acquisitions or strategic investments in other companies, pay dividends, repurchase our stock or react to changing economic and business conditions. If we are unable to fund our capital or credit requirements, it could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
In addition to our debt obligations, we will need to continue to invest in our operations for the foreseeable future to integrate acquired businesses and to fund new initiatives. If we do not achieve the expected operating results, we will need to reallocate our cash resources. This may include borrowing additional funds to service debt payments, which may impair our ability to make investments in our business or to integrate acquired businesses.
Should we need to raise funds through issuing additional equity, our equity holders will suffer dilution. Should we need to raise funds through incurring additional debt, we may become subject to covenants more restrictive than those contained in our credit facilities, the indentures governing our notes and our other debt instruments. Furthermore, if adverse economic conditions occur, we could experience decreased revenues from our operations which could affect our ability to satisfy financial and other restrictive covenants to which we are subject under our existing indebtedness.
RISKS RELATED TO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND BRAND REPUTATION
Damage to our reputation or brand name could have a material adverse effect on our businesses.
One of our competitive strengths is our strong reputation and brand name. Various issues may give rise to reputational risk, including issues relating to:
•our ability to maintain the security of our data and systems;
•the quality and reliability of our technology platforms and systems;
•the ability to fulfill our regulatory obligations;
•the ability to execute our business plan, key initiatives or new business ventures and the ability to keep up with changing customer demand;
•the representation of our business in the media;
•the accuracy of our financial statements and other financial and statistical information;
•the accuracy of our financial guidance or other information provided to our investors;
•the quality of our corporate governance structure;
•the quality of our products, including the reliability of our transaction-based, IR & ESG Services and market technology products, the accuracy of the quote and trade information provided by our Market Data business and
the accuracy of calculations used by our Indexes business for indexes and unit investment trusts;
•the quality of our disclosure controls or internal controls over financial reporting, including any failures in supervision;
•extreme price volatility on our markets;
•any negative publicity surrounding our listed companies;
•any negative publicity surrounding the use of our products and/or services by our customers, including in connection with emerging asset classes such as crypto assets; and
•any misconduct, fraudulent activity or theft by our employees or other persons formerly or currently associated with us.
Damage to our reputation could cause some issuers not to list their securities on our exchanges, as well as reduce the trading volumes or values on our exchanges or cause us to lose customers in our Market Data, Index, IR & ESG Services or Market Technology businesses. This, in turn, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
Failure to meet customer expectations or deadlines for the implementation of our products could result in negative publicity, losses and reduced sales, each of which may harm our reputation, business and results of operations.
We generally mutually agree with our customers on the duration, budget and costs associated with the implementation of certain of our products, particularly our Market Technology large-scale market infrastructure projects. Various factors may cause implementations to be delayed, inefficient or otherwise unsuccessful, including due to unforeseen project complexities, our deployment of insufficient resources, logistical challenges due to the effects of COVID-19 or other external factors. The effects of a failure to meet an implementation schedule could include monetary credits for current or future service engagements, a reduction in fees for the project, or the expenditure of additional expenses to mitigate such delays. In addition, time-consuming implementations may also increase the personnel we must allocate to such customer, thereby increasing our costs and diverting attention from other projects. Unsuccessful, lengthy, or costly customer implementation projects could result in claims from customers, decreased customer satisfaction, harm to our reputation, and opportunities for competitors to displace us, each of which could have an adverse effect on our reputation, business and results of operations.
Failure to protect our intellectual property rights, or allegations that we have infringed on the intellectual property rights of others, could harm our brand-building efforts and ability to compete effectively.
To protect our intellectual property rights, we rely on a combination of trademark laws, copyright laws, patent laws,
trade secret protection, confidentiality agreements and other contractual arrangements with our affiliates, clients, strategic partners, employees and others. However, the efforts we have taken to protect our intellectual property and proprietary rights might not be sufficient, or effective, at stopping unauthorized use of those rights. We may be unable to detect the unauthorized use of, or take appropriate steps to enforce, our intellectual property rights.
We have registered, or applied to register, our trademarks in the United States and in over 50 foreign jurisdictions and have pending U.S. and foreign applications for other trademarks. We also maintain copyright protection for software products and pursue patent protection for inventions developed by us. We hold a number of patents, patent applications and licenses in the United States and other foreign jurisdictions. However, effective trademark, copyright, patent and trade secret protection might not be available or cost-effective in every country in which our services and products are offered. Moreover, changes in patent law, such as changes in the law regarding patentable subject matter, could also impact our ability to obtain patent protection for our innovations. There is also a risk that the scope of protection under our patents may not be sufficient in some cases, or that existing patents may be deemed invalid or unenforceable. Failure to protect our intellectual property adequately could harm our brand and affect our ability to compete effectively. Further, defending our intellectual property rights could result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources.
Third parties may assert intellectual property rights claims against us, which may be costly to defend, could require the payment of damages and could limit our ability to use certain technologies, trademarks or other intellectual property. Any intellectual property claims, with or without merit, could be expensive to litigate or settle and could divert management resources and attention. Successful challenges against us could require us to modify or discontinue our use of technology or business processes where such use is found to infringe or violate the rights of others, or require us to purchase licenses from third parties, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
GENERAL RISK FACTORS
We are a holding company that depends on cash flow from our subsidiaries to meet our obligations, and any restrictions on our subsidiaries’ ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
As a holding company, we require dividends and other payments from our subsidiaries to meet cash requirements. Minimum capital requirements mandated by regulatory authorities having jurisdiction over some of our regulated subsidiaries indirectly restrict the amount of dividends paid upstream.
In addition, unremitted earnings of certain subsidiaries outside of the U.S. are used to finance our international operations and are considered to be indefinitely reinvested.
If our subsidiaries are unable to pay dividends and make other payments to us when needed, we may be unable to satisfy our obligations, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
We may experience fluctuations in our operating results, which may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Our industry is risky and unpredictable and is directly affected by many national and international factors beyond our control, including:
•economic, political and geopolitical market conditions;
•natural disasters, terrorism, pandemics, war or other catastrophes;
•broad trends in finance and technology;
•changes in price levels and volatility in the stock markets;
•the level and volatility of interest rates;
•changes in government monetary or tax policy;
•the perceived attractiveness of the U.S. or European capital markets; and
Any one of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results by causing a substantial decline in the financial services markets and reducing trading volumes or values.
Additionally, since borrowings under our credit facilities bear interest at variable rates and commercial paper is issued at prevailing interest rates, any increase in interest rates on debt that we have not fixed using interest rate hedges will increase our interest expense, reduce our cash flow or increase the cost of future borrowings or refinancings. Other than variable rate debt, we believe our business has relatively large fixed costs and low variable costs, which magnifies the impact of revenue fluctuations on our operating results. As a result, a decline in our revenue may lead to a relatively larger impact on operating results. A substantial portion of our operating expenses is related to personnel costs, regulation and corporate overhead, none of which can be adjusted quickly and some of which cannot be adjusted at all. Our operating expense levels are based on our expectations for future revenue. If actual revenue is below management’s expectations, or if our expenses increase before revenues do, both revenues less transaction-based expenses and operating results would be materially and adversely affected. Because of these factors, it is possible that our operating results or other operating metrics may fail to meet the expectations of stock market analysts and investors. If this happens, the market price of our common stock may be adversely affected.
We rely on third parties to perform certain functions, and our business could be adversely affected if these third parties fail to perform as expected.
We rely on third parties for regulatory, data center, cloud, data storage, data content, clearing and other services. Interruptions or delays in services from our third-party data center hosting facilities or cloud computing platform providers could impair the delivery of our services and harm our business. To the extent that any of our vendors or other third-party service providers experiences difficulties, materially changes their business relationship with us or is unable for any reason to perform their obligations, our business or our reputation may be materially adversely affected.
We also rely on members of our trading community to maintain markets and add liquidity. To the extent that any of our largest members experiences difficulties, materially changes its business relationship with us or is unable for any reason to perform market making activities, our business or our reputation may be materially adversely affected.
Our operational processes are subject to the risk of error, which may result in financial loss or reputational damage.
We have instituted extensive controls to reduce the risk of error inherent in our operations; however, such risk cannot completely be eliminated. Our businesses are highly dependent on our ability to process and report, on a daily basis, a large number of transactions across numerous and diverse markets. Some of our operations require complex processes, and the introduction of new products or services or changes in processes or reporting due to regulatory requirements may result in an increased risk of errors for a period after implementation. Additionally, the likelihood of such errors or vulnerabilities is heightened as we acquire new products from third parties, whether as a result of acquisitions or otherwise.
Data, other content or information that we distribute may contain errors or be delayed, causing reputational harm. Use of our products and services as part of the investment process creates the risk that clients, or the parties whose assets are managed by our clients, may pursue claims against us in the event of such delay or error. Even with a favorable outcome, significant litigation against us might unduly burden management, personnel, financial and other resources.
In addition, the sophisticated software we sell to our customers may contain undetected errors or vulnerabilities, some of which may be discovered only after delivery, or could fail to perform its intended purpose. Because our clients depend on our solutions for critical business functions, any service interruptions, failures or other issues may result in lost or delayed market acceptance and lost sales, or negative customer experiences that could damage our reputation, resulting in the loss of customers, loss of revenues and liability for damages, which may adversely affect our business and financial results.
Climate change may have a long-term adverse impact on our business.
While we seek to mitigate our business risks associated with climate change by establishing robust environmental and sustainability programs, there are inherent climate related risks wherever our business is conducted. There is an increased focus from our investors, clients, employees, and other stakeholders concerning corporate citizenship and sustainability matters. Access to clean water and reliable energy in the communities where we conduct our business, whether for our offices, data centers, vendors, clients or other stakeholders, is a priority. For example, changes in weather where we operate may increase the costs of powering and cooling our data centers or the facilities that we use to operate our exchanges and clearinghouses, develop our products or provide cloud-based services. Climate related events, including extreme weather events and their impact on the critical infrastructure in the United States and elsewhere, have the potential to disrupt our business or the business of our clients; cause increased volatility in commodity markets in which Nasdaq Clearing operates as a clearinghouse, which may result in Nasdaq Clearing holding insufficient collateral for such volatility; and create adverse market conditions, including trading volatility beyond historical levels, any of which could adversely affect our business, reputation, financial condition and operating results.
Failure to attract and retain key personnel may adversely affect our ability to conduct our business.
Our future success depends, in large part, upon our ability to attract and retain highly qualified and skilled professional personnel that can learn and embrace new technologies. Competition for key personnel in the various localities and business segments in which we operate is intense. Our ability to attract and retain key personnel, in particular senior officers or technology personnel, will be dependent on a number of factors, including prevailing market conditions, office/remote working arrangements and compensation packages offered by companies competing for the same talent. There is no guarantee that we will have the continued service of key employees who we rely upon to execute our business strategy and identify and pursue strategic opportunities and initiatives. In particular, we may have to incur costs to replace senior officers or other key employees who leave, and our ability to execute our business strategy could be impaired if we are unable to replace such persons in a timely manner.
Our non-U.S. business operates in various international markets, particularly emerging markets that are subject to greater political, economic and social uncertainties than developed countries.
Our non-U.S. business operates in various international markets, including but not limited to Northern Europe, the Baltics, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Therefore, our non-U.S. operations are subject to the risk inherent in the international environment. Political, economic or social events or developments in one or more of our non-U.S.
locations could adversely affect our operations and financial results. Some locations, such as Lithuania, India and the Philippines, have economies that may be subject to greater political, economic and social uncertainties than countries with more developed institutional structures, which may increase our operational risk.
Unforeseen or catastrophic events could interrupt our critical business functions. In addition, our U.S. and European businesses are heavily concentrated in particular areas and may be adversely affected by events in those areas.
We may incur losses as a result of unforeseen or catastrophic events, such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, pandemics (such as COVID-19), extreme weather, fire, power loss, telecommunications failures, human error, theft, sabotage and vandalism. Given our position in the global capital markets, we may be more likely than other companies to be a target for malicious disruption activities.
In addition, our U.S. and European business operations are heavily concentrated in the U.S. East Coast, and Stockholm, Sweden, respectively. Any event that impacts either of those geographic areas could potentially affect our ability to operate our businesses.
We have disaster recovery and business continuity plans and capabilities for critical systems and business functions to mitigate the risk of an interruption. Any interruption in our critical business functions or systems could negatively impact our financial condition and operating results. Additionally, some colocation customers may lack adequate disaster recovery solutions to avoid loss of trade flow from a sustained interruption of our critical systems.
Because we have operations in numerous countries, we are exposed to currency risk.
We have operations in the U.S., the Nordic and Baltic countries, the United Kingdom, Australia and many other foreign countries. We therefore have significant exposure to exchange rate movements between the Euro, Swedish Krona and other foreign currencies towards the U.S. dollar. Significant inflation or disproportionate changes in foreign exchange rates with respect to one or more of these currencies could occur as a result of general economic conditions, acts of war or terrorism, changes in governmental monetary or tax policy, changes in local interest rates or other factors. These exchange rate differences will affect the translation of our non-U.S. results of operations, interest expense and financial condition into U.S. dollars as part of the preparation of our consolidated financial statements.
If our risk management methods are not effective, our business, reputation and financial results may be adversely affected.
We utilize widely-accepted methods to identify, assess, monitor and manage our risks, including oversight of risk management, by Nasdaq’s Global Risk Management Committee, which is comprised of senior executives and has
the responsibility for regularly reviewing risks and referring significant risks to the board of directors or specific board committees. Local risk management committees in our international offices provide local risk oversight and escalation to local boards, as appropriate. Certain risk management methods require subjective evaluation of dynamic information regarding markets, customers or other matters. That variable information may not in all cases be accurate, complete, up-to-date or properly evaluated. If we do not successfully identify, assess, monitor or manage the risks to which we are exposed, our business, reputation, financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.
Decisions to declare future dividends on our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors based upon a review of relevant considerations. Accordingly, there can be no guarantee that we will pay future dividends to our stockholders.
Our board of directors regularly declares quarterly cash dividend payments on our outstanding common stock. Future declarations of quarterly dividends and the establishment of future record and payment dates are subject to approval by Nasdaq’s board of directors. The board’s determination to declare dividends will depend upon our profitability and financial condition, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable law and other factors that the board deems relevant. Based on an evaluation of these factors, the board of directors may determine not to declare future dividends at all or to declare future dividends at a reduced amount. Accordingly, there can be no guarantee that we will pay future dividends to our stockholders.
Provisions of our certificate of incorporation, by-laws, exchange rules (including provisions included to address SEC concerns) and governing law restrict the ownership and voting of our common stock. In addition, such provisions could delay or prevent a change in control of us and entrench current management.
Our organizational documents place restrictions on the voting rights of certain stockholders. The holders of our common stock are entitled to one vote per share on all matters to be voted upon by the stockholders except that no person may exercise voting rights in respect of any shares in excess of 5% of the then outstanding shares of our common stock. Any change to the 5% voting limitation would require SEC approval.
In response to the SEC’s concern about a concentration of our ownership, the rules of some of our exchange subsidiaries include a prohibition on any member or any person associated with a member of the exchange from beneficially owning more than 20% of our outstanding voting interests. SEC consent would be required before any investor could obtain more than a 20% voting interest in us. The rules of some of our exchange subsidiaries also require the SEC’s approval of any business ventures with exchange members, subject to exceptions.
Our organizational documents contain provisions that may be deemed to have an anti-takeover effect and may delay, deter or prevent a change of control of us, such as a tender offer or takeover proposal that might result in a premium over the market price for our common stock. Additionally, certain of these provisions make it more difficult to bring about a change in the composition of our board of directors, which could result in entrenchment of current management.
Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws:
•do not permit stockholders to act by written consent;
•require certain advance notice for director nominations and actions to be taken at annual meetings; and
•authorize the issuance of undesignated preferred stock, or “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval.
Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law imposes restrictions on mergers and other business combinations between us and any holder of 15% or more (or, in some cases, a holder who previously held 15% or more) of our common stock. In general, Delaware law prohibits a publicly held corporation from engaging in a “business combination” with an “interested stockholder” for three years after the stockholder becomes an interested stockholder, unless the corporation’s board of directors and stockholders approve the business combination in a prescribed manner.
Finally, many of the European countries where we operate regulated entities require prior governmental approval before an investor acquires 10% or greater of our common stock.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
We conduct our business operations in leased facilities. We do not own any real property. Our U.S. headquarters are located in New York, New York, and our European
headquarters are located in Stockholm, Sweden. We also lease space in multiple locations around the world, which are used for research and development, sales and support, and administrative activities, as well as for data centers and disaster preparedness facilities.
Generally, our properties are not allocated for use by a particular segment. Instead, most of our properties are used by two or more segments. We believe the facilities that we occupy are adequate for the purposes for which they are currently used and are well-maintained.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
See “Legal and Regulatory Matters - Litigation,” of Note 18, “Commitments, Contingencies and Guarantees,” to the consolidated financial statements, which is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol “NDAQ.” As of February 11, 2021, we had approximately 229 holders of record of our common stock.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Share Repurchase Program
See “Share Repurchase Program,” of Note 12, “Nasdaq Stockholders’ Equity,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of our share repurchase program.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
The table below represents repurchases made by or on behalf of us or any “affiliated purchaser” of our common stock during the fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2020:
|Period||(a) Total Number of Shares Purchased||(b) Average Price Paid Per Share||(c) Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs||(d) Maximum Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs (in millions)|
|October 2020|| || || |
Share repurchase program(1)
|— ||$||— ||— ||$||446 |
|12,466 ||$||127.08 || N/A|| N/A|
|November 2020|| || || || |
Share repurchase program(1)
|77,364 ||$||126.70 ||77,364 ||$||436 |
|55 ||$||133.20 || N/A|| N/A|
|December 2020|| || || || |
Share repurchase program(1)
|203,617 ||$||127.16 ||203,617 ||$||410 |
|55,205 ||$||133.72 || N/A|| N/A|
|Total Quarter Ended December 31, 2020|| || || || |
|Share repurchase program||280,981 ||$||127.04 ||280,981 ||$||410 |
|Employee transactions||67,726 ||$||132.49 || N/A||N/A|
N/A Not applicable.
(1) See “Share Repurchase Program,” of Note 12, “Nasdaq Stockholders’ Equity,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of our share repurchase program.
(2) Represents shares surrendered to us to satisfy tax withholding obligations arising from the vesting of restricted stock and PSUs issued to employees.
The following graph compares the total return of our common stock to the Nasdaq Composite Index, the S&P 500 and a peer group selected by us, shown below, for the past five years:
|ASX Limited||•||Deutsche Börse AG||•||LSE |
|•||Euronext N.V.||•||Singapore Exchange Limited|
|•||Bolsas Mexicana de Valores, S.A.B. de C.V.||•||Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited||•||TMX Group Limited|
|•||CME Group Inc.||•||Japan Exchange Group, Inc|
The figures represented below assume an initial investment of $100 in the common stock or index at the closing price on December 31, 2015 and the reinvestment of all dividends.
COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN*
Among Nasdaq, Inc., the Nasdaq Composite Index, the S&P 500, and a Peer Group
* $100 invested on 12/31/2015 in stock or index, including reinvestment of dividends.
|Fiscal Year Ended December 31,|
|Nasdaq, Inc.||$||100 ||$||117 ||$||137 ||$||148 ||$||199 ||$||251 |
|Nasdaq Composite Index||100 ||109 ||141 ||137 ||187 ||272 |
|S&P 500||100 ||112 ||136 ||130 ||171 ||203 |
|Peer Group||100 ||110 ||148 ||159 ||204 ||244 |
Copyright© 2020 Standard & Poor's, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved.
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
As a result of our early adoption, in December 2020, of SEC Final Rule Release No. 33-10890, “Management's Discussion and Analysis, Selected Financial Data, and Supplementary Financial Information,” this item has been omitted.
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion and analysis of the financial condition and results of operations of Nasdaq should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this Form 10-K, as well as the discussion under “Item 1A. Risk Factors.” For further discussion of our growth strategy, products and services, and competitive strengths, see “Item 1. Business.” Unless stated otherwise, the comparisons presented in this discussion and analysis refer to the year-over-year comparison of changes in our financial condition and results of operations as of and for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019. Discussion of fiscal year 2018 items and the year-over year comparison of changes in our financial condition and results of operations as of and for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018 can be found in Part II, “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, which was previously filed with the SEC on February 25, 2020.
We manage, operate and provide our products and services in four business segments: Market Services, Corporate Platforms, Investment Intelligence and Market Technology. See Note 1, “Organization and Nature of Operations,” and Note 19, “Business Segments,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of our reportable segments and geographic data, as well as how management allocates resources, assesses performance and manages these businesses as four separate segments.
Impact of COVID-19 on Our Business
For a discussion of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors - Risks Related To Our Business and Industry - The COVID-19 pandemic could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations,” and “Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
Sources of Revenues and Transaction-Based Expenses
See “Revenue Recognition and Transaction-Based Expenses,” of Note 2, “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies,” to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion of our sources of revenues and transaction-based expenses.
Nasdaq’s Operating Results
The following table and charts include key drivers and other metrics for our Market Services, Corporate Platforms, Investment Intelligence and Market Technology segments. In evaluating the performance of our business, our senior management closely evaluates these key drivers.
|Year Ended December 31,|
|Market Services|| |
|Equity Derivative Trading and Clearing|| |
|U.S. equity options|| |
|Total industry average daily volume (in millions)||27.7 ||17.5 ||18.2 |
|Nasdaq PHLX matched market share||12.7 ||%||15.9 ||%||15.7 ||%|
|The Nasdaq Options Market matched market share||9.8 ||%||8.8 ||%||9.4 ||%|
|Nasdaq BX Options matched market share||0.2 ||%||0.2 ||%||0.4 ||%|
|Nasdaq ISE Options matched market share||7.8 ||%||9.0 ||%||8.8 ||%|
|Nasdaq GEMX Options matched market share||5.6 ||%||4.2 ||%||4.5 ||%|
|Nasdaq MRX Options matched market share||0.7 ||%||0.2 ||%||0.1 ||%|
|Total matched market share executed on Nasdaq’s exchanges||36.8 ||%||38.3 ||%||38.9 ||%|
|Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic options and futures|| || |
Total average daily volume of options and futures contracts(1)
|Cash Equity Trading|| |
|Total U.S.-listed securities|| |
|Total industry average daily share volume (in billions)||10.9 ||7.0 ||7.3 |
|Matched share volume (in billions)||508.3 ||348.1 ||358.5 |
|The Nasdaq Stock Market matched market share||16.8 ||%||17.2 ||%||15.9 ||%|
|Nasdaq BX matched market share||0.9 ||%||1.7 ||%||2.8 ||%|
|Nasdaq PSX matched market share||0.6 ||%||0.7 ||%||0.8 ||%|
|Total matched market share executed on Nasdaq’s exchanges||18.3 ||%||19.6 ||%||19.5 ||%|
|Market share reported to the FINRA/Nasdaq Trade Reporting Facility||31.8 ||%||29.8 ||%||31.3 ||%|
Total market share(2)
|50.1 ||%||49.4 ||%||50.8 ||%|
|Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic securities|| || |
|Average daily number of equity trades executed on Nasdaq’s exchanges||933,822||590,705||618,579 |
|Total average daily value of shares traded (in billions)||$||5.6 ||$||4.5 ||$||5.6 |
|Total market share executed on Nasdaq’s exchanges||78.1 ||%||72.8 ||%||68.8 ||%|
|FICC|| || || |
|Fixed Income|| || || |
|U.S. fixed income volume ($ billions traded)||$||6,169 ||$||10,465 ||$||15,983 |
Total average daily volume of Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic fixed income contracts
|Commodities|| || || |
Power contracts cleared (TWh)(3)
|956 ||842 ||1,067 |
|Corporate Platforms|| || || |
|IPOs|| || || |
|The Nasdaq Stock Market||316 ||188 ||186 |
|Exchanges that comprise Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic||45 ||34 ||53 |
|Total new listings|| || || |
The Nasdaq Stock Market(4)
|454 ||313 ||303 |
Exchanges that comprise Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic(5)
|67 ||53 ||72 |
|Number of listed companies|| || || |
The Nasdaq Stock Market(6)
|3,392 ||3,140 ||3,058 |
Exchanges that comprise Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic(7)
|1,071 ||1,040 ||1,019 |
|Investment Intelligence|| || || |
|Number of licensed ETPs||339 ||332 ||365 |
|ETP AUM tracking Nasdaq indexes (in billions)||$||359 ||$||233 ||$||172 |
|Market Technology|| || || |
Order intake (in millions)(8)
|$||240 ||$||366 ||$||223 |
Annualized recurring revenue, or ARR (in millions)(9)
|$||283 ||$||260 ||$||222 |
(1) Includes Finnish option contracts traded on Eurex for which Nasdaq and Eurex have a revenue sharing arrangement.
(2) Includes transactions executed on The Nasdaq Stock Market’s, Nasdaq BX’s and Nasdaq PSX’s systems plus trades reported through the FINRA/Nasdaq Trade Reporting Facility.
(3) Transactions executed on Nasdaq Commodities or OTC and reported for clearing to Nasdaq Commodities measured by Terawatt hours (TWh).
(4) New listings include IPOs, including issuers that switched from other listing venues, closed-end funds and separately listed ETPs.
(5) New listings include IPOs and represent companies listed on the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges and companies on the alternative markets of Nasdaq First North.
(6) Number of total listings on The Nasdaq Stock Market at period end, including 412 ETPs as of December 31, 2020, 412 as of December 31, 2019 and 392 as of December 31, 2018.
(7) Represents companies listed on the Nasdaq Nordic and Nasdaq Baltic exchanges and companies on the alternative markets of Nasdaq First North.
(8) Total contract value of orders signed during the period.
(9) ARR for a given period is the annualized revenue of active Market Technology support and SaaS subscription contracts. ARR is currently one of our key performance metrics to assess the health and trajectory of our recurring business. ARR does not have any standardized definition and is therefore unlikely to be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies. ARR should be viewed independently of revenue and deferred revenue and is not intended to be combined with or to replace either of those items. ARR is not a forecast and the active contracts at the end of a reporting period used in calculating ARR may or may not be extended or renewed by our customers.
The following chart summarizes our annualized recurring revenue, or ARR (in millions):
ARR for a given period is the annualized revenue derived from subscription contracts with a defined contract value. This excludes contracts that are not recurring, are one-time in nature, or where the contract value fluctuates based on defined metrics. ARR is currently one of our key performance metrics to assess the health and trajectory of our recurring business. ARR does not have any standardized definition and is therefore unlikely to be comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies. ARR should be viewed independently of revenue and deferred revenue and is not intended to be combined with or to replace either of those items. ARR is not a forecast and the active contracts at the end of a reporting period used in calculating ARR may or may not be extended or renewed by our customers.
◦Trade Management Services business, excluding one-time service requests.
◦U.S. and Nordic annual listing fees, IR and ESG products, including subscription contracts for IR Insight, Boardvantage and OneReport, and IR advisory services.
◦Proprietary market data and index data subscriptions as well as subscription contracts for eVestment, Solovis, DWA tools and services, Nasdaq Fund Network and Quandl. Also includes guaranteed minimum on futures contracts within the Index business.
◦Active Market Technology support and SaaS subscription contracts.
The following chart summarizes our SaaS revenues for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 (in millions):
The following table summarizes our financial performance for the year ended December 31, 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019 and for the year ended December 31, 2019 when compared with the same period in 2018. For a detailed discussion of our results of operations, see “Segment Operating Results” below.
| ||Year End December 31,||Percentage Change|
| ||2020||2019||2018||2020 vs. 2019||2019 vs. 2018|
| ||(in millions, except per share amounts)|| || |
Revenues less transaction-based expenses
|$||2,903 ||$||2,535 ||$||2,526 ||14.5 ||%||0.4 ||%|
|$||1,669 ||$||1,518 ||$||1,498 ||9.9 ||%||1.3 ||%|
|$||1,234 ||$||1,017 ||$||1,028 ||21.3 ||%||(1.1)||%|
Net income attributable to Nasdaq
|$||933 ||$||774 ||$||458 ||20.5 ||%||69.0 ||%|
Diluted earnings per share
|$||5.59 ||$||4.63 ||$||2.73 ||20.7 ||%||69.6 ||%|
Cash dividends declared per common share
|$||1.94 ||$||1.85 ||$||1.70 ||4.9 ||%||8.8 ||%|
In countries with currencies other than the U.S. dollar, revenues and expenses are translated using monthly average exchange rates. Impacts on our revenues less transaction-based expenses and operating income associated with fluctuations in foreign currency are discussed in more detail under “Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk.”
Segment Operating Results
The following table shows our revenues by segment, transaction-based expenses for our Market Services segment and total revenues less transaction-based expenses:
| ||Year Ended December 31,||Percentage Change|
| ||2020||2019||2018||2020 vs. 2019||2019 vs. 2018|
| ||(in millions)|| |
|Market Services||$||3,832 ||$||2,639 ||$||2,709 ||45.2 ||%||(2.6)||%|
Market Services revenues less transaction-based expenses
|1,108 ||912 ||958 ||21.5 ||%||(4.8)||%|
|Corporate Platforms||530 ||496 ||487 ||6.9 ||%||1.8 ||%|
|Investment Intelligence||908 ||779 ||714 ||16.6 ||%||9.1 ||%|
|357 ||338 ||270 ||5.6 ||%||25.2 ||%|
|— ||10 ||97 ||(100.0)||%||(89.7)||%|
Total revenues less transaction-based expenses
|$||2,903 ||$||2,535 ||$||2,526 ||14.5 ||%||0.4 ||%|
(1) For the year ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, other revenues include the revenues from the BWise enterprise governance, risk and compliance software platform, which was sold in March 2019, and for the year ended December 31, 2018, other revenues also include revenues from the Public Relations Solutions and Digital Media Services businesses which were sold in April 2018. Prior to the sale dates, these revenues were included in our IR & ESG Services business within our Corporate Platforms segment.
The following charts show our Market Services, Corporate Platforms, Investment Intelligence, and Market Technology segments as a percentage of our total revenues less transaction-based expenses of $2,903 million in 2020, $2,535 million in 2019, and $2,526 million in 2018:
The following table shows total revenues, transaction-based expenses, and total revenues less transaction-based expenses from our Market Services segment:
| ||Year Ended December 31,||Percentage Change|
| ||2020||2019||2018||2020 vs. 2019||2019 vs. 2018|
| ||(in millions)|
|Market Services Revenues:|| || || |
Equity Derivative Trading and Clearing Revenues(1)
|$||1,258 ||$||816 ||$||849 ||54.2 ||%||(3.9)||%|
|Transaction-based expenses:|| || || || |
|Transaction rebates||(828)||(477)||(506)||73.6 ||%||(5.7)||%|
Brokerage, clearance and exchange fees(1)
|(76)||(47)||(44)||61.7 ||%||6.8 ||%|
Equity derivative trading and clearing revenues less transaction-based expenses
|354 ||292 ||299 ||21.2 ||%||(2.3)||%|
Cash Equity Trading Revenues(2)
|2,211 ||1,462 ||1,476 ||51.2 ||%||(0.9)||%|
|Transaction-based expenses:|| || || || |
|Transaction rebates||(1,200)||(847)||(830)||41.7 ||%||2.0 ||%|
Brokerage, clearance and exchange fees(2)
Cash equity trading revenues less transaction-based expenses
|393 ||263 ||285 ||49.4 ||%||(7.7)||%|
|64 ||70 ||92 ||(8.6)||%||(23.9)||%|
|Transaction-based expenses:|| || || |
|Brokerage, clearance and exchange fees||(1)||(1)||(2)||— ||%||(50.0)||%|
FICC revenues less transaction-based expenses
|62 ||66 ||82 ||(6.1)||%||(19.5)||%|
|Trade Management Services Revenues||299 ||291|