LOS ANGELES — The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are battling it out far from home — at Face book's California headquarters — to see which market will snag the hottest stock listing in years.
As the social- networking giant prepares for a blockbuster initial public offering, expected this spring, a guessing game has emerged over where it will call home. The Nasdaq has lured many other technology companies, while the Big Board has pushed hard in recent years for more tech offerings.
The longtime rivalry between Nasdaq OMX Group and NYSE Euronext has reached a new intensity, experts say. They are battling for not just profits but for the cachet Facebook would bring.
The chief executives at both exchanges are said to have appeared at pitch meetings, a rarity that demonstrates the importance they place on Facebook.
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"They're pulling out all the stops," said Jason Frankl, a stock-listing expert at FTI Consulting. "There is exposure, prestige and multiple revenue streams associated with the Facebook listing."
Each exchange has claimed some bragging rights in the past year as the two faced off over a string of social-media names. Nasdaq bagged Zynga and Groupon, while NYSE secured LinkedIn, Pandora Media and Yelp.
Experts say Nasdaq stresses its long track record with tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google. Its tech-sector prowess stems from the tech boom, when many startups favored Nasdaq for its lower fees and easier listing standards. Nasdaq also offers exposure through a seven-story electronic billboard in New York's Times Square.
The NYSE emphasizes its blue-chip prestige and its effort in recent years to attract tech companies. And, of course, there's the lure of ringing the opening bell on the Big Board's storied trading floor.
"The history would go toward Nasdaq, but the trend is toward the NYSE," said Scott Cutler, who co-heads the exchange's listings business.
Nonsense, counters Robert McCooey, his Nasdaq counterpart.
"Just because someone climbs to the highest mountain and shouts that they're the home for technology doesn't mean they're the home for technology," he said. "Just because I could say, 'I'm 6-foot-2 and I look like Brad Pitt,' doesn't mean it's true."
Facebook has given few hints about which way it's leaning.
The company chose a two-letter ticker symbol, FB, when it filed its IPO paperwork last month.
In the past, that would have signaled an NYSE listing because the Big Board doled out all tickers of one, two or three letters, while Nasdaq controlled four-letter symbols. That was changed several years ago, and each can hand out any ticker now.