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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. Relating to the Withdrawal of Approval for Securities Underlying Options Traded on the Exchange

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble February 25, 2003.

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 January 27, 2003, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc. (“CBOE” or “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I, II, and III below, which Items have been prepared by the CBOE. 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 CBOE proposes to amend CBOE Rule 5.4, which governs the withdrawal of approval for securities underlying options traded on the Exchange. The text of the proposed rule change is available at the Office of the Secretary, CBOE and at the Commission.

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

CBOE Rule 5.4 sets forth the guidelines to be considered by the Exchange in determining whether an underlying security previously approved for Exchange option transactions no longer meets its requirements for the continuance of such approval. Specifically, Interpretation and Policy .01(a) to CBOE Rule 5.4 provides that absent exceptional circumstances, the Exchange may not list additional series on an option class if there are fewer than 6,300,000 shares of the underlying security held by persons other than those who are required to report their security holdings under section 16(a) of Act [3] (the “float” requirement). Interpretation and Policy .01(b) to CBOE Rule 5.4 provides that, absent exceptional circumstances, the Exchange may not list additional series on an option class if there are fewer than 1,600 holders of the underlying security (the “holders” requirement).

The Exchange is now proposing to add new Interpretation and Policy .11 to CBOE Rule 5.4 to clarify the manner in which the Exchange determines whether the so-called “float” of the underlying security was fewer than 6.3 million shares or the number of “holders” of the underlying security was fewer than 1,600.

Specifically, the Exchange proposes to expressly state that in determining whether any of the events specified in Interpretation and Policy .01(a) or (b) to CBOE Rule 5.4 have occurred, the Exchange would monitor on a daily basis news sources for information of corporate actions, including stock splits, mergers and acquisitions, distribution of special cash dividends, recapitalizations, and stock buy backs. If a corporate action indicates that an underlying security no longer meets the Exchange's requirements for continued approval under Interpretation and Policy .01(a) or (b) to CBOE Rule 5.4, the Exchange would not open additional series of option contracts of the class covering the underlying security. If, however, information of a corporate action does not indicate that any of the events specified in Interpretation and Policy .01(a) or (b) to CBOE Rule 5.4 have occurred, the Exchange shall consider the events specified in Start Printed Page 10287Interpretation and Policy .01(a) and (b) to have been satisfied.[4]

2. Statutory Basis

The Exchange believes that the current proposal will allow it to provide investors with those options that are most useful and demanded by them without sacrificing any investor protection. As such, the Exchange believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with section 6(b) of the Act,[5] in general, and furthers the objectives of section 6(b)(5) of the Act,[6] in particular, in that it is designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to facilitate transactions in securities, 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.

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

The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any unnecessary or inappropriate burdens 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

Within 35 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) as the Commission may designate up to 90 days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding, or (ii) as to which the Exchange consents, the Commission will:

(A) By order approve such proposed rule change; or

(B) Institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change 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 the filing will also be available for inspection and copying at the principal offices of the Exchange. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-CBOE-2003-03 and should be submitted by March 25, 2003.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[7]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

4.  The Exchange represents that existing Interpretation and Policy .03 to CBOE Rule 5.4 would continue to apply when the Exchange considers whether any of the events specified in Interpretation and Policy .01 have occurred with respect to an underlying security. Specifically, Interpretation and Policy .03 to CBOE Rule 5.4 provides that the Exchange shall ordinarily rely on information made publicly available by the issuer and/or markets in which such security is traded. Telephone conversation between Patrick Sexton, CBOE, and Frank N. Genco, Attorney, Division of Market Regulation, Commission, on February 11, 2003.

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[FR Doc. 03-4952 Filed 3-3-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P