ECONOMY

Measures for the stock market in the pipeline

The Finance Ministry and the Capital Market Commission (CMC) are currently working on the last batch of measures for the upgrading of the institutional framework of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), including two more bodies to help resolve disputes. The 14 measures in the works are projected to create a new image for the bourse, complementing CMC’s main legislative work embodied in the so-called White Paper. One measure concerns automatic auctions, where a stock seen to have low trading volume and large price fluctuations is automatically withdrawn from continuous trading and traded through auctioning. This measure may eventually help abolish the daily upper and lower price volatility limits, now standing at 18 percent. Another proposal is for an institution with legal powers, projected for enactment in autumn, with the task of intervening between buyers and sellers of stocks, derivatives and other products on the Greek capital market. The package also includes tax incentives, already announced by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis as part of a draft bill to promote mergers, which should contribute to the shrinking of the number of listed companies. The Capital Market Mediator will look into complaints or differences relating to the provision of services to private investors, covering the full range of investment services, including the mutual funds sector, on the basis of stock market legislation. According to the standing codes of practice, those lodging complaints must initially address them in writing to the appropriate customer service department of the firm concerned, which also has to reply in writing within 10 working days. Trading criteria are another institutional measure, according to which stocks not achieving specific volumes of trading will be placed in a lower category. The rules of corporate governance are an ambitious plan of the CMC which aims, among other things, to establish transparency in the deliberations of boards of directors, internal auditing procedures and the use of capital raised. The creation of a new institutional framework for the planned real estate mutual funds is said to among the priorities of the Finance Ministry, along with the creation and listing of mutual funds that will be traded as stocks. Another draft bill designed to promote entrepreneurship and scheduled to be tabled shortly will include provisions for firms investing in real estate, while maritime enterprises of ocean-going vessels are preparing for listing. A further three measures will be a table with qualitative criteria of firms, the promotion of alliances with bourses in western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and, finally, the preparation of a new price list by ASE’s parent company, Hellenic Exchanges holding company, for the services provided to investors.