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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Order Approving Proposed Rule Change by the Chicago Stock Exchange, Incorporated Relating to Specialist Retention Periods for Nasdaq National Market Securities Traded on the Exchange Pursuant to Unlisted Trading Privileges

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble March 8, 2000.

I. Introduction

On August 19, 1999, the Chicago Stock Exchange, Incorporated (“CHX” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] a proposed rule change to modify co-specialist retention periods for securities listed on the Exchange and to eliminate co-specialist retention periods for Nasdaq National Market (“Nasdaq/NM”) securities traded on the Exchange pursuant to unlisted trading privileges.[3] The Federal Register published the proposed rule change for comment on October 12, 1999, and the portion related to listed securities was approved, on an accelerated basis, at that time.[4] The Commission received no comments on the proposal. This order approves the proposal.

II. Description of Proposal

The Exchange proposes eliminating retention periods for co-specialists in Nasdaq/NM securities provided that at least five calendar days notice is given to order sending firms. Because the number of Nasdaq/NM securities that the Exchange can trade pursuant to unlisted trading privileges (“UTP”) is limited,[5] stock allocation issues relating to Nasdaq/NM securities that are distinct from allocation issues relating to other securities traded on the Exchange have developed. Specifically, because the existing 1,000 security limit on the total number of Nasdaq/NM securities that can be traded UTP on an Exchange-wide basis has been largely filled, co-specialists in Nasdaq/NM securities cannot acquire a new Nasdaq/NM issue until they deregister in an issue they currently trade and that security is removed from the list of Nasdaq/NM securities traded on the Exchange. The current specialist deregistration rules, however, do not provide the flexibility to quickly complete this procedure.[6] In addition, the current rules do not provide Nasdaq/NM specialist firms sufficient flexibility to reallocate stocks awarded in competition between co-specialists within the same specialist unit when a co-specialist's stocks become active and volatile.[7]

To address these concerns, the Exchange is proposing to eliminate the retention restrictions on co-specialists for Nasdaq/NM securities governed by Interpretation and Policy .01 to Rule 1. The amended interpretation will permit co-specialists in Nasdaq/NM issues to deregister in an issue more quickly, to allow them to respond to market developments. In addition, and, subject to the continuing authority of the Exchange's Committee on Specialist Assignments and Evaluation, the proposal permits co-specialists in Nasdaq/NM securities to deregister at any time after providing at least five calendar days notice to order sending firms, and allows intra-firm transfers of Nasdaq/NM securities awarded in competition without a mandatory retention period.[8]

The Exchange will ensure that there will be no disruption to the marketplace as a result of relaxed stock retention requirements.[9] The Exchange believes Start Printed Page 14003that the $2,000 fee it charges for such transfers will prevent disruptive serial transfers and deregistrations that have not been carefully contemplated by the specialist.[10]

The proposed amendments relating to Nasdaq/NM securities will only be effective for as long as the number of Nasdaq/NM issues that can be traded UTP on the Exchange is limited. If the Commission eliminates this limitation, Nasdaq/NM issues and the co-specialist maintaining Nasdaq/NM issues will be subject to the regular retention periods applicable to all other issues traded on the Exchange.

III. Discussion

The Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6 of the Act [11] and the rules and regulations thereunder [12] applicable to a national securities exchange. Section 6(b) of the Act [13] states that the rules of an exchange must be designed to facilitate securities transactions and to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market. The Commission believes that eliminating retention periods for co-specialists in Nasdaq/NM securities will enable the Exchange and specialist firms to more quickly respond to market developments. The Commission believes the proposed rule change will serve the public interest by allowing the transfer of a security to a co-specialist that is more experienced or is assigned to a fewer number of issues if trading in one or more of the securities handled by another co-specialist becomes unusually high or volatile. Finally, in approving the proposed rule change, the Commission notes that the Exchange, through its Committee on Specialist Assignments and Evaluation, will monitor the turnover of co-specialist assignments to avoid possible abuses.

IV. Conclusion

It Is Therefore Ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[14] that the portion of the proposed rule change relating to specialist retention periods for Nasdaq/NM securities (File No. SR-CHX-99-11) is approved.

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[15]

Start Signature

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  Securities Exchange Act Release No. 41922 (Sept. 26, 1999), 64 FR 55324 (Oct. 12, 1999).

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4.  Id. The order permanently approved a pilot program relating to the time periods for which a co-specialist must trade a security listed on the Exchange prior to deregistering as the specialist for that security as set forth in CHX Rules, Article XXX, Rule 1, Interpretation and Policy .01.

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5.  Securities Exchange Act Rel. No. 41392 (May 12, 1999), 64 FR 27839 (May 21, 1999).

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6.  Interpretation and Policy .01 to Article XXX, Rule 1 of the CHX Rules requires two years to elapse before an intra-firm transfer of an issue awarded in competition (i.e., transfer of the issue to another co-specialist within the same specialist unit) is permitted without posting. No time period is required before an intra-firm transfer of an issue awarded without competition is allowed. Before a co-specialist is able to deregister in a security if no other specialist would be assigned to the security after posting and deregistration, a co-specialist was required to trade the security for three months for securities awarded without competition, and one year for securities awarded in competition.

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7.  In such a situation, a specialist unit might deem it to be in the best interests of customers and the Exchange to transfer the stock to another co-specialist within the same specialist unit that is assigned to a fewer number of issues or is more experienced.

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8.  There is currently no minimum retention period for intra-firm transfers of securities awarded without competition. See Article XXX, Rule 1, Interpretation and Policy .01.

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9.  The Exchange represents that the proposed rule change will have no ramifications on the UTP Plan governing the collection, consolidation and dissemination of quotation and transaction information for NASDAQ/NM securities. Telephone call between Paul O'Kelly, Executive Vice President, CHX, and Sonia Patton, Attorney, Division, Commission, on March 8, 2000.

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10.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 41569 (June 28, 1999), 64 FR 36726 (July 7, 1999).

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12.  In approving this rule change, the Commission has considered the proposal's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation, consistent with Section 3 of the Act. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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[FR Doc. 00-6367 Filed 3-14-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-M