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Nasdaq says FINRA caps Facebook IPO claims at $41.6 million

The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. REUTERS/V
The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. REUTERS/V

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The total value of the claims that market makers can recover after suffering losses due to Nasdaq OMX Group Inc's botched handling of Facebook Inc's initial public offering is $41.6 million, the exchange operator said Friday.

The claims figure, which was calculated by Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, falls short of the $62 million that Nasdaq had initially set aside to repay brokerages that lost money.

Nasdaq said the figure is lower in part because some claims did not qualify for compensation under its plan.

The main reason for the lower figure, however, was because one firm opted to try to recover funds through arbitration.

The announcement did not name the brokerage, which was UBS AG.

UBS has pegged its losses from the glitch-ridden IPO at $350 million and was vocal in its decision to file an arbitration demand which claimed Nasdaq had violated a contract agreement.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet, however, blocked the bank's arbitration proceeding over the summer on several grounds, including a determination that the bank's claims did not fall within the scope of the arbitration provision in their services agreement.

"Nasdaq has demonstrated that the arbitration should be enjoined because it is likely to succeed on the merits and will suffer irreparable harm," Sweet wrote.

"Given the substantial federal issues posed by UBS claims, the threat of an arbitration panel issuing a decision that may conflict with the decision of a federal court in a parallel litigation also weighs strongly against permitting UBS to proceed with its arbitration proceeding," he added.

Megan Stinson, a spokeswoman for UBS, told Reuters on Friday that the bank has since appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She could not comment further, as the case is currently under seal.

Facebook's problematic debut on the Nasdaq exchange on May 18, 2012, resulted from a systems failure that prevented the timely delivery of order confirmations and left more than 30,000 Facebook orders stuck in Nasdaq's system for more than two hours.

Many brokerages were left in the dark wondering if their trades went through. Major market makers estimated they lost collectively up to $500 million in the IPO.

Nasdaq devised a plan to compensate firms up to $62 million, and laid out the criteria for how firms can be eligible to file claims.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the compensation plan in March, and FINRA was put in charge of processing the claims for restitution.

Several months after approving the plan, the SEC in May filed civil charges against Nasdaq, saying the exchange's "ill-fated decisions" on the day of the Facebook IPO led to a series of regulatory violations.

Nasdaq settled the charges and agreed to pay a $10 million fine.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Phil Berlowitz)

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