Electronic trading giant Citadel Securities will bolster its already huge presence at the New York Stock Exchange by buying the NYSE market-making business of smaller rival IMC Financial Markets, the companies said.

The deal would solidify Citadel Securities’ status as the largest designated market maker at the exchange. DMM firms are tasked with ensuring orderly trading of stocks listed on the NYSE. They gain certain trading privileges in return, and their blue-jacketed traders occupy a prominent position in the center of the exchange’s historic trading floor.

The deal is subject to approval by the NYSE. If it is completed, Citadel Securities would oversee trading for more than half of the securities listed on the exchange. It would also reduce the number of DMM firms at the Big Board to three from four, potentially raising concerns that the DMM business is becoming overly concentrated.

IMC, a global trading firm based in Amsterdam, runs the third-largest DMM business at the NYSE. Earlier this year, it oversaw trading in 18% of NYSE-listed stocks, while Citadel Securities had a 44% share, according to a NYSE spreadsheet viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The spreadsheet listed DMM assignments for more than 3,000 securities, including closed-end funds and preferred shares as well as the common stock of NYSE-listed companies.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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Richard Branson has pushed ahead with plans to raise up to $480 million through a blank check special purpose acquisition vehicle, or SPAC, according to a statement from his new company, VG Acquisition Corp.

Trading will kick off today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol VGAC.U, with 48,000,000 shares initially priced at $10 each. The money is earmarked, according to a Virgin source, simply for a “new businesses venture.”

SPACs are shell companies that raise money by going public, then seek an existing business to merge with or acquire using the proceeds of the IPO. Branson himself will lead the management team of VG Acquisition Corp., which says it will focus on finding businesses from Virgin Group’s core sectors—namely travel, leisure, financial services, health, technology and renewable energy.

Branson has been modernizing the Virgin portfolio, with recent investments in Agilyx, a  difficult-to-recycle waste plastics company founded in a garage in Longview, Washington, and BMR, a wind power venture focused on the West Indies and Latin America. After the pandemic grounded Branson’s Virgin Atlantic fleet and threatened his business empire, the focus is shifting back toward innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship.

SPACs—So Hot Right Now

This isn’t Branson’s first experience with SPACs, sometimes referred to as “blank check companies.” In October 2019, he took his aerospace firm Virgin Galactic public via a merger with a SPAC led by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, in an $800 million deal. 

According to Barron’s, citing data from industry resource site SPAC Insider, there have been 116 initial SPAC public offerings this year that have raised $44

(Reuters) – Asana Inc

was valued at more than $4 billion in its New York Stock Exchange debut on Wednesday, after the workplace software maker went public through a direct listing rather than a traditional initial public offering.

Asana’s stock opened at $27 per share and closed at $28.80, up from a reference price of $21 per share set by the NYSE on Tuesday.

Prior to its public debut, Asana shares had traded in the private market at a weighted average price of $25.11 apiece in August.

The listing comes as the company’s software that supports corporate teams’ collaboration and organization is of particular value to customers during the COVD-19 pandemic, according to co-founder and Chief Executive Dustin Moskovitz.

“All these companies are moving to remote work for the first time, getting that clarity has become an ever more important business imperative. We’re well matched to the moment,” Moskovitz said in a telephone interview.

Asana was joined on Wednesday by Palantir Technologies , another company backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, which also debuted on the NYSE through a direct listing, rather than a traditional initial public offering.

Existing investors can sell their shares directly to the market in a direct listing and the price at which shares are sold is not influenced by input from underwriting banks, amid criticism that shares in an IPO are often underpriced. Unlike an IPO, companies are not allowed to raise capital.

“In a traditional IPO where the underwriters may be pricing it at a particular price and then you see a 20%, 30% or sometimes even 50% increase in the stock, as the CFO you’re thinking, are you leaving money on the table?” Asana Chief Financial Officer Tim Wan said in an interview.

“In a direct listing you don’t have that phenomenon

Shares of Asana  (ASAN) – Get Report rose Wednesday in their first day of trading for the collaboration-software company after its direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The San Francisco company’s co-founder and chief executive is Dustin Moskovitz, who also a co-founder of Facebook.  (FB) – Get Report

Asana recently traded at $28.49 on the NYSE, up 36% from its reference price of $21. The stock opened at $27.

In a direct listing a company and its current holders sell shares to the public. New shares are not created and no underwriters are involved.

Asana’s IPO was overshadowed by Palantir  (PLTR) – Get Report, a provider of data-analytics software to the government. Backed by venture capital icon Peter Thiel, Palantir also went public Wednesday with a direct listing on the NYSE.

Asana, started up in 2008, has 910 employees and produces software that competes with Atlassian’s TEAM Trello.

“We have experienced rapid growth in recent periods,” Asana said in its prospectus. Revenue registered $76.8 million and $142.6 million for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020, respectively, representing growth of 86%.”

Sales totaled $28 million and $47.7 million for the three months ended April 30, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The company reported net losses of $50.9 million for fiscal 2019 and $118.6 million and fiscal 2020. It posted deficits of $15 million and $35.8 million for the three months ended April 30, 2019 and 2020, respectively.

As for risks, “we have a limited operating history at our current scale, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects and may increase the risk that we will not be successful,” Asana said.

In addition, it said, “we have a history of losses, and we may not be able to achieve profitability or, if achieved,

Asana’s reference price is set at $21.00 ahead of its direct listing on Wednesday, according to the New York Stock Exchange.

At that price, the work collaboration unicorn would command a fully diluted market value of $3.9 billion.

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The San Francisco, CA-based company plans to list on the NYSE on Wednesday under the symbol ASAN. The NYSE reference price does not reflect an offering price, or the opening price for Asana’s shares on Wednesday. Instead, the opening public price will be determined by the designated market maker, using buy and sell orders collected by the NYSE from broker-dealers.

Asana and Palantir (PLTR; also listing Wednesday) are the third and fourth major direct listings, following Slack (WORK) in June 2019 and Spotify (SPOT) in April 2018.

The Registered Stockholders, which represent major existing shareholders including management, have registered to sell up to 30 million shares; however, more shares are eligible to be sold on the first day of trading. Unlike a traditional IPO, there is no share lock-up.

Asana was founded in 2008 and booked $181 million in sales for the 12 months ended July 31, 2020. As a direct listing without a firm commitment offering, there are no underwriters on the deal; instead, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Jefferies serve as financial advisors.

The article Asana’s NYSE reference price is set at $21 ahead of Wednesday direct listing originally appeared on IPO investment manager Renaissance Capital’s web site renaissancecapital.com.

Investment Disclosure: The information and opinions expressed herein were prepared by Renaissance Capital’s research analysts and do not constitute an offer to buy or sell any security. Renaissance Capital’s Renaissance IPO ETF (symbol: IPO), Renaissance International ETF