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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Order Approving Proposed Rule Change by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. Relating to an Extension of the Permissible Maturity of Flexible Exchange Index Options to Ten Years

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Start Preamble November 12, 2002.

On April 30, 2002, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. (“CBOE” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “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 revise CBOE Rule 24A.4, “Terms of FLEX Options,” to provide a maximum term of up to ten years for Flexible Exchange (“FLEX”) index options [3] under certain circumstances.

The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on August 21, 2002.[4] No comments were received regarding the proposal. This order approves the proposed rule change.

Currently, CBOE Rule 24A.4(a)(4)(i) provides a maximum term of five years for FLEX index options. The CBOE proposes to amend CBOE Rule 24A.4(a)(4)(i) to provide a maximum term of up to ten years for FLEX index options, provided that the FLEX Post Official determines that sufficient liquidity exists among FLEX index participating members to support a request for a quote for such options. To determine whether sufficient liquidity exists to support a request for a quote, the FLEX Post Official will ask FLEX index market makers and other FLEX index traders (including the Submitting Member) whether they are interested in making a two-sided market in the proposed series for the size requested.[5] If the FLEX index market makers and FLEX index traders respond affirmatively, the FLEX Post Official will open a Request for Quotes for the proposed series, which will trade pursuant to the provisions of CBOE Rule 24A.5, “FLEX Trading Procedures and Principles.”[6] The CBOE believes that this requirement will help to prevent the proliferation of longer-term FLEX index options where there is no interest in trading such options.

The margin requirements for the proposed FLEX index options will be the same as the margin requirements that apply currently to existing FLEX index options and to other listed options.[7] Thus, the required minimum initial and maintenance margin for a proposed FLEX index option with more than nine months to expiration will be at least 75% of the current market value of the option.[8] The required minimum initial and maintenance margin for a short position in the proposed FLEX index options will be the same as the margin required for short positions in other listed broad-based index options.[9]

According to the CBOE, the Exchange has received numerous requests from broker-dealers to extend the maturity of FLEX index options to ten years to permit their institutional customers that trade or issue securities with five-to ten-year terms to hedge their long-term risk. The CBOE states that the proposal will allow institutions to use long-term FLEX Start Printed Page 69776index options to protect their portfolios from long-term market moves at a known and limited cost. In addition, the CBOE believes that the proposal will better serve the long-term hedging needs of institutional investors and provide those investors with an alternative to hedging their portfolios with off-exchange customized index options and warrants.

The Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities exchange and, in particular, with the requirements of section 6(b) of the Act [10] and the rules and regulations thereunder. Specifically, the Commission finds that the proposal is consistent with the requirements under section 6(b)(5) of the Act [11] that the rules of a national securities exchange be designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and to protect investors and the public interest.[12]

The Commission believes that extending the permissible maturity of FLEX index options to a maximum term of up to ten years will help to meet the long-term hedging requirements of institutional investors and other market participants.[13] The proposal should benefit market participants with long-term hedging needs by allowing them to hedge positions on a long-term basis through an investment in one option series, rather than having to roll shorter-term expirations into new series to remain hedged over an extended period of time. In addition, the proposal will allow market participants to hedge long-term risk with an exchange-traded option, thereby providing an alternative to hedging positions with over-the-counter (“OTC”) products and extending the benefits of a listed, exchange market to longer-term index options.[14] The extension of the permissible maturity term for FLEX index options to up to ten years also could help to expand the depth and liquidity of the FLEX index option market.

The Commission notes that a series of the proposed FLEX index options may be issued only if a FLEX Post Official determines that there is sufficient liquidity among FLEX index participating members to support the request for a quote for such options. This requirement should help to prevent the proliferation of longer term FLEX index options series where there is no interest in trading such options. In addition, as with all exchange-traded options, the OCC will act as the counter-party guarantor, thereby ensuring that obligations will be met over the long term. In approving this proposal, the Commission notes that the extension to ten years is based, in part, on the nature of the FLEX market, which is geared toward institutional investors and high net worth individuals.[15] The Commission believes that because of their experience, these market participants may be better able to assess the risks of longer term index option products.[16]

For the foregoing reasons, the Commission finds that the proposal is consistent with the requirements of the Act and rules and regulations thereunder.

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[17] that the proposed rule change (SR-CBOE-2002-23) is approved.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[18]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  FLEX index options allow investors to customize certain option terms, including size, expiration date, exercise style, and exercise price.

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4.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 46363 (August 15, 2002), 67 FR 54243.

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5.  See letter from Jaime Galvan, Attorney II, CBOE, to Yvonne Fraticelli, Division of Market Regulation, Commission, dated October 14, 2002 (“October 14 Letter”).

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6.  See October 14 Letter, supra note 5.

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7.  See October 14 Letter, supra note 5.

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8.  See CBOE Rule 12.3(c)(4)(B).

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9.  See October 14 Letter, supra note 5. Under the CBOE's rules, the required minimum initial and maintenance margin for an unhedged position in a listed broad-based index option carried short in a customer's account is 100% of the current market value of the option plus 15% of the product of the current index group value and the applicable index multiplier, reduced by any out-of-the-money amount, with a minimum margin requirement equal to 100% of the current market value of the option plus 10% of the product of the current index group value and the applicable index multiplier. See CBOE Rule 12.3(c)(5)(A).

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12.  In approving 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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13.  FLEX index options are designed to appeal to institutional investors or extremely high net worth individuals who have the experience and ability to engage in negotiated, customized transactions. In this regard, the Commission notes that the required minimum size for an opening transaction in any FLEX index option series in which there is no open interest is $10 million Underlying Equivalent Value (the aggregate underlying monetary value covered by that number of contracts, derived by multiplying the index multiplier by the current index value times the given number of FLEX index options). See CBOE Rule 24A.4(a)(4)(ii).

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14.  As the Commission has noted previously, the benefits of the CBOE's market versus an OTC market include, but are not limited to, a centralized market center, an auction market with posted transparent market quotations and transaction reporting, standardized contract specifications, parameters and procedures for clearance and settlement, and the guarantee of the Options Clearing Corporation (“OCC”) for all contracts traded on the CBOE. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 31920 (February 24, 1993), 58 FR 12280 (March 3, 1993) (File No. SR-CBOE-92-17) (approving the CBOE's proposal to list and trade FLEX options on the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 100 Index).

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15.  See note 13, supra.

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16.  See also note 12 in Securities Exchange Act Release No. 39524 (January 8, 1998), 63 FR 3009 (January 20, 1998) (order approving File No. SR-CBOE-97-57) (noting certain concerns that may be raised by long-term options).

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[FR Doc. 02-29240 Filed 11-18-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P