This excerpt taken from the NDAQ 10-K filed Mar 14, 2005.
Our agreements with NASD and its other affiliates may not be on terms as favorable to us as could have been obtained from unaffiliated third parties and we have potential conflicts of interest with NASD and related parties.
For purposes of governing our ongoing relationship, we and NASD, or their affiliates, have entered into various agreements and arrangements involving the provision of services, such as market surveillance and other regulatory and facilities sharing functions. We have negotiated an agreement with NASD, pursuant to which NASD will regulate our membership and market surveillance activity commencing upon the SEC granting our application for exchange registration. At the time the parties negotiated this agreement, the parties envisioned that NASD would continue regulating trading activity on The Nasdaq Stock Market under a long-term contract that establishes the various functions NASD will perform for us and the pricing methodology for the services that we receive from NASD. The functions covered under this agreement, as negotiated, are substantially of the same type and scope as those NASD currently performs under the Delegation Plan.
Until exchange registration is granted by the SEC, the regulatory services agreement between Nasdaq and NASD is not effective. Thus, Nasdaq and NASD currently operate pursuant to the Delegation Plan. We have approached NASD about formalizing the services provided pursuant to the Delegation Plan in a written contract to be effective until exchange registration. However, the parties have not agreed to the terms of such an agreement to date. Since we have no formal regulatory services contract with NASD, we negotiate pricing on services annually and we can offer no assurances that we will be able to obtain services from NASD at comparable or reduced price levels in future periods. In addition, we may determine that it is necessary to negotiate other new contracts with NASD or its affiliates, or to renegotiate existing contracts between the parties. Although it is the intention of the parties to negotiate agreements that provide for arms length, fair market value pricing, there can be no assurance that these contemplated agreements, or the transactions provided in them, will be effected on terms as favorable to us as could have been obtained from unaffiliated third parties. The cost to us for such services could increase at a faster rate than our revenues and could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Conflicts of interest may arise between us and NASD, or its affiliates, in a number of areas including the nature, quality and pricing of services rendered; tax and employee benefit matters; indemnity agreements; sales or distributions by NASD of all or any portion of its ownership interest in us; or NASDs ability to influence certain affairs of ours prior to exchange registration. There can be no assurance that NASD and Nasdaq will be able to resolve any potential conflict or that, if resolved, we would not receive a more favorable resolution if we were dealing with an unaffiliated party.
On November 29, 2004, we entered into an exchange agreement with NASD pursuant to which NASD exchanged 1,338,402 shares of our Series A Cumulative Preferred Stock, representing all the outstanding shares of Series A Cumulative Preferred Stock, for 1,338,402 shares of newly issued Series C Cumulative Preferred Stock. Under the exchange agreement, we must obtain NASDs prior written consent before incurring or assuming long-term debt or engaging in extraordinary asset sales that in aggregate equal or exceed $200.0 million in outstanding long-term debt and sales of our assets for cash outside of the ordinary course of business. NASDs consent may not be unreasonably withheld; however, if we elect to proceed with such a transaction, NASD is permitted to condition its consent on the proceeds being used to redeem the Series C Cumulative Preferred Stock. Debt outstanding as of February 21, 2002 and debt incurred to refinance such outstanding debt are excluded from this calculation. Also, sales of capital stock and sales or transfers of assets in connection with a joint venture, strategic alliance or similar arrangement (if not primarily for cash and to raise capital) are excluded from the definition of sales of our assets for cash outside of the ordinary course of business.