Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”), and Rule 19b-4 thereunder, notice is hereby given that on December 30, 2008, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated (“Exchange” or “CBOE”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the Exchange. The Exchange filed the proposal as a “non-controversial” proposed rule change pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A)(iii) of the Act  and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder. 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 Exchange is amending its accommodation liquidation procedures to allow transactions to take place at a price that is below $1 per option contract. The text of the proposed rule change is available on the Exchange's Web site (http://www.cboe.org/Legal), at the Exchange's Office of the Secretary and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.
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 those 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 parts of such statements.
A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change
Cabinet trading is generally conducted in accordance with the Exchange Rules, except as provided in Exchange Rule 6.54, Accommodation Liquidations (Cabinet Trades), which sets forth specific procedures for engaging in cabinet trades. Rule 6.54 currently provides for cabinet transactions to occur via open outcry at a cabinet price of a $1 per option contract in any options series open for trading in the Exchange, except that the Rule is not applicable to trading in option classes participating in the Penny Pilot Program. Under the procedures, bids and offers (whether opening or closing a position) at a price of $1 per option contract may be represented in the trading crowd by a Floor Broker or by a Market-Maker or provided in response to a request by a PAR Official/OBO, a Floor Broker or a Market-Maker, but must yield priority to all resting orders in the PAR Official/OBO cabinet book (which resting cabinet book orders may be closing only). So long as both the buyer and the seller yield to orders resting in the cabinet book, opening cabinet bids can trade with opening cabinet offers at $1 per option contract.
The purpose of this rule change is to temporarily amend the procedures through January 30, 2009 to allow transactions to take place in open outcry at a price of at least $0 but less than $1 per option contract. These lower priced transactions would be traded pursuant to the same procedures applicable to $1 cabinet trades, except that (i) bids and offers for opening transactions would only be permitted to accommodate closing transactions in order to limit use of the procedure to liquidations of existing positions, and (ii) the procedures would also be made available for trading in option classes participating in the Penny Pilot Start Printed Page 481Program. The Exchange believes that allowing a price of at least $0 but less than $1 will better accommodate the closing of options positions in series that are worthless or not actively traded, particularly due to recent market conditions which have resulted in a significant number of series being out-of-the-money. For example, a market participant might have a long position in a call series with a strike price of $100 and the underlying stock might now be trading at $30. In such an instance, there might not otherwise be a market for that person to close out its position even at the $1 cabinet price (e.g., the series might be quoted no bid).
As with other accommodation liquidations under Rule 6.54, transactions that occur for less than $1 will not be disseminated to the public on the consolidated tape. In addition, as with other accommodation liquidations under Rule 6.54, the transactions will be exempt from the Consolidated Options Audit Trail (“COATS”) requirements of Exchange Rule 6.24, Required Order Information. However, the Exchange will maintain quotation, order and transaction information for the transactions in the same format as the COATS data is maintained. In this regard, all transactions for less than $1 must be reported to the Exchange following the close of each business day. The rule change also provides that transactions for less than $1 will be reported for clearing utilizing forms, formats and procedures established by the Exchange from time to time. In this regard, the Exchange initially intends to have clearing firms directly report the transactions to The Options Clearing Corporation (“OCC”) using OCC's position adjustment/transfer procedures. This manner of reporting transactions for clearing is similar to the procedure that CBOE currently employs for on-floor position transfer packages executed pursuant to Exchange Rule 6.49A, Transfer of Positions.
2. Statutory Basis
The Exchange believes the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act  and the rules and regulations thereunder and, in particular, the requirements of Section 6(b) of the Act. Specifically, the Exchange believes the proposed rule change is consistent with the Section 6(b)(5)  requirements that the rules of an exchange be designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts, to remove impediments to and to perfect the mechanism for a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The Exchange believes that allowing for liquidations at a price less than $1 per option contract will better facilitate the closing of options positions that are worthless or not actively trading.
B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition
CBOE does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.
C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants or Others
The Exchange neither solicited nor received comments on the proposal.
III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action
Because the foregoing rule does not: (i) Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; or (iii) become operative for 30 days from the date on which it was filed, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate if consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest, the proposed rule change has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act  and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder.
The Exchange has asked the Commission to waive the operative delay to permit the proposed rule change to become operative prior to the 30th day after filing. The Exchange noted that the accommodation liquidations at a contract price of less than $1 that would be permitted in open outcry under the proposal would be conducted pursuant to the same trading procedures that currently apply for $1 cabinet trades and reported for clearing pursuant to the same procedures that currently apply for position transfers. Additionally, the Exchange noted that under its current Rule 6.49, in certain circumstances transactions can take place off the Exchange floor at prices less than $1 per option contract. Therefore, the Exchange contends that allowing for an increment of less than $1 is not novel or unique.
Given the recent market conditions, the Exchange also stated it believes that market participants may wish to close their out-of-the-money options positions before the 2008 year-end, and that the contemplated changes will help to better facilitate the process. The Exchange also stated it believes that acceleration of the operative date is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest because the proposed rule change will better facilitate the closing of options positions that are worthless or not actively trading prior to the end of 2008.
In light of the foregoing, the Commission has determined that waiving the 30-day operative delay of the Exchange's proposal is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest. Therefore, the Commission designates the proposal operative upon filing.
At any time within 60 days of the filing of such 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 purposes of the Act.
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. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
- Use the Commission's Internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml); or
- Send an e-mail to email@example.com. Please include File No. SR-CBOE-2008-133 on the subject line.Start Printed Page 482
- Send paper comments in triplicate to Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.
All submissions should refer to File Number SR-CBOE-2008-133. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml). 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, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File No. SR-CBOE-2008-133 and should be submitted on or before January 27, 2009.Start Signature
For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.
Florence E. Harmon,
5. The Exchange notes that in certain circumstances transactions can already take place off the Exchange floor at less than $1 per option contract (e.g., Exchange Rule 6.49, Transactions Off the Exchange).Back to Citation
6. Currently the $1 cabinet trading procedures are limited to options classes traded in $0.05 or $0.10 standard increment. The $1 cabinet trading procedures are not available in Penny Pilot Program classes because in those classes an option series can trade in a standard increment as low as $0.01 per share (or $1.00 per option contract with a 100 share multiplier). Because the instant rule change would allow trading below $0.01 per share (or $1.00 per option contract with a 100 share multiplier), the procedures would be made available for all classes, including those classes participating in the Penny Pilot Program.Back to Citation
11. 17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6). In addition, Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii) requires a self-regulatory organization to provide the Commission with written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change, along with a brief description and text of the proposed rule change, at least five business days prior to the date of filing of the proposed rule change, or such shorter time as designated by the Commission. The Exchange has satisfied this requirement.Back to Citation
12. For purposes only of waiving the 30-day operative delay, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).Back to Citation
[FR Doc. E8-31390 Filed 1-5-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P