Exchange to end full-day halt in share trading for firm's announcements

Listed firms will be allowed to suspend trading for just 30 minutes for news

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 March, 2013, 3:32am

Listed companies will be allowed to have a short 30-minute break in the trading of their shares for the release of important information from next year, instead of the current practice of suspending trading for half a day or longer, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing yesterday.

The change, which is intended to match international practice, was a proposal released in a consultation last July.

Yesterday the exchange said a majority of respondents support the change and it would therefore go ahead with the reform. But it would not introduce the change until the middle of 2014, to allow brokers to have sufficient time to prepare.

The new rule will allow companies to release information during trading hours by suspending trading for 30 minutes. A 10-minute auction would be held to determine the opening price for the resumption of trading.

David Graham, chief regulatory officer and head of listing at the exchange, said: "We are aware that implementation of our trading halt proposals, particularly the mid-session auction proposal, will involve significant changes to exchange participants' systems and operations. Therefore, implementation of our trading halt proposals will coincide with the roll-out of other major market infrastructure initiatives to minimise the development and testing efforts required by market participants."

The proposal comes after criticism of the long suspensions in trading after the stock exchange trading system came under attack from computer hackers in August 2011.

Currently HKEx does not allow the more than 1,500 companies listed on the exchange to announce any corporate news, such as mergers or acquisitions, during trading hours. Companies need to suspend trading for a half or full day after the announcement is published on the company's and HKEx's websites.