By AARON LUCCHETTI And SHIRA OVIDE
Big Board parent NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Börse AG have a load of new worries now that Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. is leading a bid to bust up their $25 billion deal. But the two exchanges have another fundamental question to ponder: What to name their 6,500 -employee, $5.4 billion-revenue trans-Atlantic combination.
In coming weeks, the exchanges will appoint a committee of marketing and legal specialists to sift through more than 1,000 suggested names submitted by employees of both companies. A separate group of branding specialists also is recommending new names.
This is no trivial matter. Names matter to politicians. And calibrating to their sensitivities will be a crucial issue as the two companies try to wend their way through a regulatory gauntlet, which includes European regulators in Germany, Brussels and elsewhere, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
After the two exchanges announced their deal in February, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in a statement that the name should start with “New York” or “NY” to gain support for the deal. Within days, NYSE Chief Executive Duncan Niederauer said he had taken “DB NYSE,” an early contender, out of the running.
The name is a touchy topic in Europe, too. Deutsche Börse shareholders are slated to own 60% of the combined company, and control nine of the 15 board seats. But with Mr. Niederauer expected to become CEO, that has led some German politicians and labor leaders to fret that too much control will migrate from Frankfurt.
The dilemma has hung over Mr. Niederauer since he unveiled the deal on Feb. 15, and the first question was about what the name would be.
“Why am I not surprised?” Mr. Niederauer replied when asked about the name. “There is a lot of national pride, particularly in the businesses we operate.” He then said that he and Deutsche Börse CEO Reto Francioni wouldn’t go with “the Big Borse…although some of the traders on the NYSE floor are hoping we now are going to get Oktoberfest off,” referring to the annual German festival.
That’s why some deal advisers are lobbying for a neutral name that doesn’t scream apple pie or lederhosen. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Global Exchange Inc., one potential name floated initially by deal advisers, already is used by a human-rights organization and is reminiscent of Globex, the trading platform used by Chicago exchange company CME Group Inc. Innovex, a combination of innovation and exchange, also is being used by a golf-equipment maker and other companies.
Sifting through the possibilities is Interbrand, a consulting firm that helped coin the names “Wi-Fi” and “Prozac.” The name search could drag on for several months, and possibly longer, if a protracted bidding war ensues between Deutsche Börse and the Nasdaq-IntercontinentalExchange Inc. joint effort.
- NYSE-DB: Acknowledges eachcompany’s brand, and satisfies New York Sen.Charles Schumer’s demand that New York comes first in the name.But “DB” has the potential to tiptoe on another German icon: Deutsche Bank.
- Global Exchange: Floated by some as a neutral name unlikely to incite patriotic passions. It already is in use by an international human-rights organization.
- überMX: Suggested by Alex Frankel, author of “Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business.” It is the “biggest, boldest, and most important new set of exchanges—an all encompassing market,” Mr. Frankel said.
- Thunderbird: Dean Crutchfield, an independent brand consultant, said this is a reference to the eagle, an important historic symbol in both the U.S. and Germany.
- Cherubs Denote Yeses: A reshuffling of the letters for “Deutsche Börse NYSE,” from Danny Altman, CEO and chief creative officer for A Hundred Monkeys, a naming consultant.
Some have criticized NYSE and Deutsche Börse for not naming the company earlier. But others have said waiting could help develop a name that can win support from politicians and regulators.
In at least one sensitive trans-Atlantic deal, American pride won out in name selection. Brazilian-Belgian brewer InBev in 2008 lobbed a $52 billion takeover offer for Anheuser-Busch. The name chosen out of the gate: Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Headlines in the U.S. lamented the sale of the Budweiser maker, but regulators cleared the deal.
James Gregory, CEO of brand consultant CoreBrand LLC who used to do work for the NYSE, helped come up with the drug company then known as Aventis and helped AT&T and SBC decide to stick with AT&T as the name after a merger.
He said he likes NYSE DB or NYSE Deutsche Börse as the new name, because it would acknowledge the established brands of both companies and show Deutsche Börse as a “gracious” acquirer. The right name “is hugely important to getting the cultures to work together,” he said.
The history of corporate-name mash-ups can lead to some unwieldy appellations: Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand created PricewaterhouseCoopers. Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., the product of a 1997 merger, shortened its name to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and later to Morgan Stanley.
For its part, Nasdaq said Friday that it would name its combined exchange Nasdaq NYSE Euronext Group Inc. Nasdaq officials view the name as proper given that they would be the buyer and because the parent company reflects two American institutions, rather than a more European-focused group.
IntercontinentalExchange, which wants to buy parts of NYSE Euronext, hasn’t said if it would change its name to accommodate its new potential partner, NYSE’s Liffe derivatives business.
Some counsel simplicity for the new NYSE. Call it “The Exchange,” said Mike Robbins, a former broker and NYSE director in the 1990s. “It’s succinct and blunt” and “very self-content.”
Others like author Alex Frankel want to bring in some German flavor, calling the company überMX, for “all-encompassing market.”
Then there’s Dean Crutchfield, an independent brand consultant who suggests “Thunderbird,” a reference to the eagle, an important historic symbol in both the U.S. and Germany.
“If they don’t sort out their name issue, they’re going to need an extra long business card,” Mr. Crutchfield said.
Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit