The stock market flotation of Bats Global Markets, which operates the third-largest equity market in the US, turned into an embarrassing debacle for the company, after a technical glitch caused its share price to go haywire and forced it to cancel trading.
Bats was going to be the first company to use its seven-year-old exchange as its primary listing venue, but within minutes of trading opening yesterday it was clear that something had gone wrong.
After opening at $15.25, below the float price of $16, Bats shares collapsed to just pennies. At the same time, investors noticed erratic prices of numerous other shares which can also be traded on Bats markets, including tech giant Apple, which plunged almost 10 per cent.
Bats said stocks with ticker symbols from A to BF had been affected. Trading in Bats shares was suspended across all the US exchanges, and repeated hopes that its initial public offering (IPO) could resume later in the day were dashed.
Last night, the company's chief executive, Joe Ratterman, said: "In the wake of today's technical issues, which affected the trading of certain stocks, including that of Bats, we believe withdrawing the IPO is the appropriate action to take for our company and our shareholders."
Bats was created by some of Wall Street's biggest broker dealers to break the duopoly of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stock markets, and to bring down the cost of trading shares by introducing hi-tech electronic trading and shielding big transactions from public view.
Traders on the NYSE floor, never fans of the exchange's upstart rival and its new ambition to become a listing venue in its own right, mocked Bats's difficulties. "Bats: soon to be listed on the NYSE," declared one banner.