DEFINITION of 'Exchange Distribution'

A type of trade made on the floor of a securities exchange in which a large block of shares traded is the merger of many buy and sell orders that have been pooled and executed as one transaction. An exchange distribution occurs when an investor makes a request with his or her broker to sell a large block of stock or other security in a single transaction. Numerous small buy orders are matched and grouped together to fill the large sell order in a single transaction.

BREAKING DOWN 'Exchange Distribution'

An exchange distribution involves the sale of a large block of stock or other security on the floor of an exchange whereby a number of smaller buy orders are grouped together to fill the block sell order. The seller (not the buyers) must pay a special commission to the broker who executes the trade, in addition to any exchange, clearing and transaction fees. Once the trade has been executed, it is listed on the broad tape (the modern version of the ticker tape produced by the Dow Jones news) as an exchange distribution.

Although there is no exact definition of what constitutes a "block" trade, a trade of this size is generally considered to involve at least 10,000 shares of stock (with the exception of penny stocks) or $200,000 worth of bonds. Block trades from large hedge funds and institutional investors can be considerably larger since they have access to significant trading capital.

Essentially, the broker distributes the large sell order to a group of buyers, thus the name exchange distribution. The opposite of an exchange distribution is an exchange acquisition in which the broker acts to fill a large buy order from an individual investor with numerous smaller sell orders that are executed as a single transaction.

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