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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Order Approving Proposed Rule Change by the International Securities Exchange, Inc. To Amend the Procedures for Executing Stock-Option Orders Under ISE Rule 722

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Start Preamble February 13, 2004.

I. Introduction

On December 18, 2003, the International Securities Exchange, Inc. (“ISE” 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 revise the procedures for executing stock-option orders by: (1) Automating the transmission of the stock leg(s) of a stock-option combination order to a broker-dealer on behalf of members; and (2) allowing for the pricing of the options leg(s) of stock-option combination orders in penny increments. The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on January 13, 2004.[3] The Commission received no comments on the proposed rule change. This order approves the proposed rule change.

II. Description of the Proposal

Under the ISE's current procedure for executing stock-option orders, each party to a stock-option trade must take steps to immediately transmit the stock leg(s) of a stock-option order to a non-ISE market for execution. The ISE has proposed to amend Supplementary Material .01 to ISE Rule 722 and to adopt Supplementary Material .02 to ISE Rule 722 to provide an automated process for executing stock-option orders. Under the automated process, an ISE member will be able to elect to have the ISE electronically communicate the stock leg(s) of a stock-option order to a designated broker-dealer for execution. To participate in the automated process, an ISE member must enter into a customer agreement with the designated broker-dealer. The ISE member will be responsible for fees and other charges the designated broker-dealer imposes for executing the trades, and the ISE has stated that it will not receive any fees Start Printed Page 8253related to the stock portion of the stock-option trade.

After the stock leg(s) of the orders are communicated to the designated broker-dealer for execution, the designated broker-dealer will be responsible for determining whether the orders may be executed in accordance with all of the rules applicable to the execution of equity orders, including compliance with the applicable short sale, trade-through, and trade reporting rules. As with the current procedure, the stock-option order will not be executed on the ISE if the broker-dealer cannot execute the equity orders at the designated price. ISE members will be able to continue using the current manual procedure for executing stock-option orders if they choose to do so.

Because the options leg of a stock-option order must be executed in $.05 increments (for options trading below $3) and $10 increments (for options trading at or above $3),[4] while the stock leg(s) of a stock-option order trade in $.01 increments, the ISE notes that it is not always possible to achieve the desired net price for stock-option orders. Accordingly, the ISE has proposed to amend ISE Rule 722(b)(1) to permit the execution of the option leg(s) of stock-option orders in one-cent increments. The options leg(s) of a stock option order will continue to be reported through the Options Price Reporting Authority (“OPRA”) with a code indicating that the trade was part of a complex order. The trade will be reported at its actual price.

III. Discussion

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.[5] In particular, the Commission believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,[6] which requires, among other things, that the Exchange's rules 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, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The Commission believes that permitting the execution of the options leg(s) of a stock-option order in one-cent increments and allowing ISE members to elect to have the ISE electronically communicate the stock leg(s) of a stock-option order to a designated broker-dealer for execution should facilitate the execution of stock-option orders. The Commission notes that an ISE member that elects to have the ISE electronically communicate the stock leg(s) of a stock-option order to a designated broker-dealer must enter into a customer agreement with the designated broker-dealer. In addition, the Commission notes that the ISE's current procedure for executing stock-option orders will continue to be available to ISE members that choose not to use the automated procedure.

IV. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change 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,[7] that the proposed rule change (SR-ISE-2003-37) is approved.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[8]

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

3.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 49023 (January 5, 2004), 69 FR 2030.

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4.  See ISE Rule 710.

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5.  In approving the proposed rule change, 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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[FR Doc. 04-3774 Filed 2-20-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P