Nasdaq expands in PH, opens new BGC headquarters

MANILA, Philippines ­– Global exchange and financial technology firm Nasdaq inaugurated its new headquarters in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) on Wednesday, May 4, as it seeks to expand its presence in the country.

The new Philippine headquarters of the world's second largest exchange – next only to the New York Stock Exchange – is part of the firm's expansion plans.

"Our corporate solutions business has had a presence here since 2006 and in the past few years other Nasdaq business groups have established teams here. With our recent growth, we have even more need to expand in Manila," said Greg Lipper, Nasdaq's senior vice president of global client services.

The new headquarters takes up two floors at the BGC Corporate Center with a total of 407 seats, 160 seats more than Nasdaq's previous office.

"We've outgrown our prior space and made sure that we have enough space [in the new headquarters] so that it can meet our growth needs over the next 18 months," Lipper explained.

Nasdaq's Philippine office currently has around 250 staff.

"My fearless forecast is that we will easily hit 300 by this year and then fill all of the 407 seats by next year," said Nasdaq site general manager Emmanuel Sarte, head of the Philippine office.

Sarte also pointed out that the work being done in the Philippine office would be highly technical.

"Around half of the current team are financial analysts who create reports for corporations all over the world while there are also a lot of web developers and specialists who handle Nasdaq customers' investor relations pages on their website," he explained.

Sarte added that the company is in the midst of a push in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, areas where the optimism for expansion comes from.

Vote of confidence

While the Philippine office mostly provides support to Nasdaq's global businesses, it also offers major services in the country.

Its main partner here is the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), which uses a trading platform powered by Nasdaq's X-stream technology.

The firm is also accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

"There are a lot of discussions ongoing with the PSE, primarily around the X-stream trading platform. Right now it's really about making sure that the trading platform in place is used as efficiently as possible as they scale up in terms of trades and listings," Sarte said.

PSE president Hans Sicat described Nasdaq's expansion as a vote of confidence in the country, PEZA, and the labor force.

"I mention vote of confidence because we are in the sphere of ASEAN integration and the International Monetary Fund expects the country to grow at around 6%, highest in ASEAN, so it speaks very highly of opportunities the country presents," he added.

Lipper, for his part, said that Nasdaq purposely chose Manila and BGC in particular in order to attract top talent.

"I spent 20 years in global operations setting up offices all over the world and I found that Manila is a fantastic place to do business. We have very demanding global clients so we need to attract a workforce that's flexible and adaptable," he said.

"I always look for a combination of talent and scale and we have that in the Philippines," he added.

Lipper also said that the firm is not concerned about the political transition even though its expansion comes amid an increasingly fractious election cycle.

"The business practices are good here. The agencies that support us like PEZA and IBPAP [IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines] really do the heavy-lifting to make it easy for us to come in, find and hire and expand so I think it will be business as usual for us," he said. –