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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change by the American Stock Exchange LLC Relating to the Implementation of “Interim Linkages”

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Start Preamble May 7, 2001.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on March 21, 2001, the American Stock Exchange LLC (“Amex” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by the self-regulatory organization. On April 27, 2001, the Exchange filed Amendment No. 1 to the proposal.[3] The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

The Amex proposes to adopt Amex Rule 940 providing for the implementation of “interim linkages” with the other option exchanges.[4]

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, the Exchange included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The Exchange has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

The purpose of this proposed rule change is to implement certain aspects of an intermarket options linkage on an “interim” basis.[5] This interim linkage would utilize existing systems to facilitate the sending and receiving of order flow between Amex specialists Start Printed Page 26888and their counterparts on the other option exchanges as an interim step towards development of a “permanent” linkage.

The Commission has approved a linkage plan that now includes all five option exchanges.[6] The option exchanges continue to work towards implementation of this linkage. However, because the implementation may take a significant amount of time, the option exchanges have discussed implementing an “interim” linkage. Such a linkage would use the existing market infrastructure to route orders between market makers on the participating exchanges in a more efficient manner.

The key component of the interim linkage would for the participating exchanges to open their automated customer execution system, on a limited basis, to market maker orders. Specifically, market makers would be able to designate certain orders as “customer” orders, and thus would receive automatic execution of those orders on participating exchanges.

This proposed rule would authorize the Amex to implement bilateral or multilateral interim arrangements with the other exchanges to provide for equal access between market makers on our respective exchanges. The Exchange currently anticipates that the initial arrangements would allow Amex specialists and their equivalents on the other exchanges, when holding customer orders, to effectively send those orders to the other market for execution when the other market has a better quote. Such orders would be limited in size to the lesser of the size of the two markets' automatic execution size for customer orders. The interim linkage may be expanded to include limited access principal orders (i.e., when the market maker is not holding a customer order), for orders of no more than 10 contracts. This access for principal orders will allow market makers to attempt to “clear” another market displaying a superior quote.

All interim linkage orders must be “immediate or cancel” (i.e., they cannot be placed on an exchange's limit order book), and a market maker may send a linkage order only when the other (receiving) market is displaying the national best bid or offer and the sending market is displaying an inferior price. This will allow a market maker to access the better price for its customer. Any exchange participating in the interim linkage will implement heightened surveillance procedures to help ensure that their market makers send only properly-qualified orders through the linkage.

Specialist participation in the interim linkage will be voluntary. Only when a specialist and its equivalent on another exchange believe that this form of mutual access would be advantageous will the exchanges employ the interim linkage procedures. The Amex believes that the interim linkage will benefit investors and will provide useful experience that will help the exchanges in implementing the full linkage.

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b) of the Act [7] in general and furthers the objectives of Section 6(b)(5) [8] in particular in that it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, promote just and equitable principles of trade, remove impediments to and perfect the mechanisms of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, protect investors and the public interest.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants or Others

No written comments were solicited or received with respect to the proposed rule change.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

The proposed rule change has been filed by the Exchange as a “non-controversial” rule change pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act [9] and subparagraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 thereunder.[10] Because the foregoing proposed rule change: (i) does not significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) does not impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) by its terms, does not become operative for 30 days after the date of the filing, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate if consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest; provided that the Exchange has given the Commission written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change at least five business days prior to the filing date of the proposed rule change, it has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act and Rule 19b-4(f)(6).

The Exchange has requested that the Commission accelerate the operative date of the proposal. The Commission finds that it is appropriate to accelerate the operative date of the proposal and designate the proposal to become operative today.[11]

The Commission finds good cause for accelerating the operative date of the proposed rule change. The Commission notes that it has approved similar proposals filed by the ISE and the CBOE.[12] Acceleration of the operative date should enable investors effecting transactions on the Amex to obtain better prices displayed on other exchanges and thus, is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act.[13]

At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission may summarily abrogate such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the Act.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether it is consistent with the Act. Persons making written submissions should file six copies thereof with the Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549-0609. Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying in the Commission's Public Reference Room. Copies of such filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Amex. All Start Printed Page 26889submissions should refer to SR-AMEX-2001-20 and should be submitted by June 5, 2001.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[14]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble


3.  See Letter from Claire P. McGrath, Vice President and Special Counsel, Derivative Securities, Amex, to Nancy Sanow, Assistant Director, Division of Market Regulation, Commission, dated April 26, 2001 (“Amendment No. 1”). In Amendment No. 1, the Exchange requested that the proposed rule change be considered a “non-controversial” rule change under paragraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 under the Act, which renders the proposal effective upon receipt of this filing by the Commission, and requested that the Commission accelerate the operative date of the proposal. In addition, the Exchange amended proposed Amex Rule 940(a)(6), which defines “eligible order,” to include a reference to subparagraph (d) of the proposed rule.

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4.  On January 30, 2001, the Commission approved similar proposals submitted by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. (“CBOE”) and the International Securities Exchange LLC (“ISE”). See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43904 (January 30, 2001), 66 FR 9112 (February 6, 2001). On February 20, 2001, the Commission issued a notice of filing and immediate effectiveness of a similar proposal submitted by the Pacific Exchange, Inc. (“PCX”). See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 43986 (February 20, 2001), 66 FR 12578 (February 27, 2001).

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5.  Under the proposal, the interim linkage would be for a pilot period expiring on January 31, 2002.

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release Nos. 43086 (July 28, 2000), 65 FR 48023 (August 4, 2000); 43573 (November 16, 2000), 65 FR 70851 (November 28, 2000); and 43574 (November 16, 2000), 65 FR 70850 (November 28, 2000).

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11.  For purposes only of accelerating the operative date of this proposal, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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12.  See note 4, supra.

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[FR Doc. 01-12133 Filed 5-14-01; 8:45 am]