THE Irish Stock Exchange does not intend to merge with a larger rival because it would be swallowed up, chief executive Deirdre Somers told a Dail committee.
Ms Somers was replying to questions from TDs about the future of the exchange and whether it should move to a format that would allow it to trade 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Smaller exchanges tend to disappear if they merge with large exchanges, Ms Somers said.
The 216-year-old exchange, which is owned by the country's major brokers, only gained real independence from the London Stock Exchange in 1995 and transformed itself from being a stock market backwater into a global player involved in the listing of investment funds and specialist debt instruments.
If small exchanges "become part of alliances, that's the end of them", said Ms Somers. "That is something the executive is very committed to not happening." Ms Somers, who became chief executive two years ago, noted that Portugal's exchange had merged with Euronext NV in 2002 to form a pan-European exchange which was, in turn, merged with NYSE in 2007 to form the NYSE Euronext group.
"The tumbleweeds are blowing round the streets where the (Lisbon) stock exchange used to be," she told deputies on the Oireachtas Committee on European Scrutiny. She also ruled out longer trading hours, noting that "for the moment" she does not see any need or desire from traders.
Former stock exchange boss Tom Healy, who now holds a post in Abu Dhabi, said, three years ago, he believed the exchange was too small to float but did not rule out selling it to one of the big companies competing to consolidate the world's stock exchanges.
The number of big companies on the ISE is dwindling as companies go broke, de-list or move overseas but the ISE's lucrative fund and debt securities listings could prove attractive to other exchanges.