NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The New York Stock Exchange, home to the nation's largest publicly traded companies, may soon get a listing of its own.
The nation's largest and oldest stock exchange said Friday it hopes to go public this fall.
The move could mean that any investor may buy shares in the elite 207-year-Wall Street institution, where a seat on the exchange costs about $2.5 million.
The push to raise money through a public offering comes as the Big Board faces increased competition from the Nasdaq stock market and other electronic exchanges capable of after-hours stock trading.
An offering, analysts said, would allow the NYSE to raise the cash to compete in a future that most believe will see round-the-clock trading.
"I think they have a legitimate reason to raise cash," said Mark Basham, an IPO analyst at Standard & Poor's. "To compete with the electronic exchanges."
Merrill tapped to review float
Merrill Lynch (MER) plans to present a review of the initial public offering plan to the NYSE's board in September. If the board approves, the issue would go to the exchange's 1,366 members for a vote, an NYSE spokesman said.
One obstacle, however, could be the Internal Revenue Service. The exchange said it is requesting a ruling on whether members who swapped their seats for shares would be subject to a capital gains tax. If that were the case, the NYSE might scrap the idea, the spokesman said.
The Big Board's plan to issue shares comes just days after the Chicago Board of Trade, the nation's largest futures exchange, said it was considering going public. Nasdaq, the nation's No. 2 stock market, also is weighing a public offering.
The NYSE would not be the first exchange to issue stock. The Australia Stock Exchange went public in October.
1999: Year of the IPO
The NYSE's possible move comes during a year of legendary IPOs, prompted in part by the long-running bull market.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS) went public in May, ending a 130-year partnership that had become a Wall Street legend. And United Parcel Service Inc., the world's oldest and largest shipping company, said Wednesday it plans to go public after 92 years as one of the biggest private companies in the world.
The NYSE, with a total market capitalization of $12 trillion, traces its origin to investors gathering under a buttonwood tree to trade stocks in lower Manhattan in 1792. It now has 3,114 listed companies with trading volume of about 800 million shares a day.
-- from staff and wire reports