NYSE opened its coronavirus-shut doors to facilitate IPO

The New York Stock Exchange quietly used its trading floor to take a company public late last month — days after it had shuttered the famous pit because of a coronavirus outbreak, The Post has learned.

The Big Board took a group of people onto the trading floor of its historic building at 11 Wall St. in Lower Manhattan on March 31 in order to list Chicago-based RiverNorth Capital Management, a newly formed mutual fund specializing in municipal bonds, sources said.

A source close to NYSE confirmed that the RiverNorth IPO was done on the trading floor, and that it was not handled with the pomp and circumstance the exchange is known for, such as the ringing of the opening bell on a balcony of the cavernous building. Instead, a small group adhered to social distancing standards throughout the entire event, although it’s unclear if attendees wore masks and gloves.

Amid a growing number of shelter-in-place orders to stop the coronavirus’s spread, NYSE on March 18 announced that it was capable of completing all transactions electronically — raising questions about why it gathered people in the building two weeks later to complete an IPO.

Adding to the confusion, RiverNorth is not listed on NYSE’s database of recent IPOs on the company’s Web site.

The historic trading floor was closed March 23 after two people who worked in the building tested positive for the coronavirus. Peter Tuchman, known as the most photographed NYSE trader, announced a few days later, on March 27, that he, too, had tested positive.

It was around this time, on March 26, that NYSE alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission to its plans to manually execute the IPO on an empty trading floor, documents show.

RiverNorth Chief Executive Patrick Galley told The Post that neither he nor his employees attended the IPO gathering at the exchange for safety reasons, though they were aware it was happening.

“RiverNorth team members did not have to physically be at the exchange but our other partner firms were instrumental,” Galley said in an e-mail. “The NYSE and our other partners, including UBS as the lead underwriter were all spectacular in making sure the fund had a successful IPO despite the exchange being on emergency footing.”

It’s unclear who attended the IPO, but longtime floor trader Art Cashin — who works for UBS, the bank that took RiverNorth public — revealed Monday on CNBC that an IPO had occurred on the exchange floor after its coronavirus closing, but didn’t identify the firm.

“They had an IPO when the floor was closed last week,” Cashin told the network.

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