ASE plans tighter rules for listed companies

The Athens Stock Exchange plans to further tighten rules for listed companies by including in an hourly weekly trading category of companies with less than 50 shareholders and an equity distribution of less than 10 pct. The proposal was presented by ASE’s chairman Socrates Lazaridis on Wednesday, during a general meeting of the Thessaloniki Stock Centre. Addressing the meeting, Lazaridis noted that listed companies with a turnover of less than 2.0 million euros annually would be included in this category, with the aim of leaving the market in a 12-month period unless they presented an improvement in their figures.

Currently, there are 32 listed companies included in the under surveillance category, but signs of renewed listing interest is emerging with three enterprises expressing interest in entering the market (one in the main market and two in the alternative market), although company executives are reportedly waiting for the government’s economic policy in June before officially applying for listing in ASE. The last listing in the market was recorded in 2009 (MIG Real Estate).

Lazaridis said a total of 162 listed enterprises (66.1 pct of total listed) adopted a new corporate governance code by the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), “proof that a new corporate governance model was promoted in the country”.

He said that 56 enterprises adopted another code and the remaining 27 listed enterprises adopted the government legislation.

Commenting on a declining turnover in the market, Lazaridis said:
“A small turnover is not necessarily bad, during a crisis. I could show a stabilizing situation, even in lower levels”. He expressed his confidence that changes made in post trading transactions and an upgrading of the Athens Stock Exchange by Thomas Murray “will have a positive impact on the market evaluation” by FTSE in September.

Lazaridis said that money raised from the market totaled 35 billion euros in the last five years (7.7 billion in 2010, up from 1.8 billion euros the European average) although he noted that these new capital were raised mainly by banks and expressed his confidence that “it will be to the benefit of everyone to use the market for raising capital from privatizations”.

A Thessaloniki Stock Centre regular general shareholders’ meeting agreed not to pay a dividend. The market reported revenues of 783,000 euros last year, down 35.5 pct from 2009. Data feed revenues totaled 442,000 euros, while net earnings after an extra tax charge fell to 18,000 euros from 124,000 euros in 2009.

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