Bats president Bill O’Brien exits Lenexa-based stock exchange

07/22/2014 11:45 AM

07/22/2014 3:35 PM

Lenexa-based Bats Global Markets Inc. said its president has left the firm less than a year after coming to the stock exchange in a merger last August.

Bill O’Brien’s departure is effective immediately, according to a short statement from Bats, which operates the second largest stock exchange in the United States. Bats officials declined to comment Tuesday.

O’Brien’s plans were not announced.

O’Brien is a former Goldman Sachs Group executive who built Direct Edge Holdings LLC into one of the biggest U.S. stock exchanges. Adding Direct Edge’s trading volume boosted Bats’ total to greater than that of the Nasdaq market and just behind the New York Stock Exchange.

Bats reported Tuesday that the NYSE had handled 22.56 percent of the trades so far this month, with Bats at 20.20 percent and Nasdaq at 19.52 percent.

O’Brien’s departure comes less than five months after he appeared in a live debate that was broadcast on CNBC. It pitted O’Brien against author Michael Lewis, whose book “Flash Boys” alleged the stock market is rigged and blasted Bats and other key players in the stock market. O’Brien also faced Brad Katsuyama, the protagonist of the book and chief executive of IEX Group Inc., which runs an electronic equity market.

Their heated exchange captivated Wall Street. Later that week, Bats was forced to correct something O’Brien said about the speed of his company’s technology systems.

Lewis’ argument that U.S. stock trading is rigged reflects a misunderstanding of how the market operates and its history, O’Brien said in the April 1 broadcast.

“Shame on both of you,” he said on the program, addressing Lewis and Katsuyama.

Bats chief executive Joe Ratterman has assumed O’Brien’s role as president.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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