Athens Stock Exchange 'to reopen'

ATHENS • The European Central Bank (ECB) yesterday approved a plan to reopen the Athens Stock Exchange with restrictions on trading by local investors after a one- month shutdown, an official from the Athens Stock Exchange said.

Trading will resume after the Greek Finance Ministry issues a ministerial decree on the matter, the official said, paving the way for the exchange to potentially open today.

"The ECB gave its approval," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The ECB approved the plan which envisages restrictions for Greek investors."

The Bank of Greece, the ECB and the Greek Finance Ministry were not reached for comment.

Earlier, Greek regulators offered two plans for the reopening - one allowing unrestricted trading and a second imposing curbs on trading by Greek investors to prevent capital fleeing banks, sources said.

The Athens Stock Exchange shut on June 29 after the government closed banks and imposed capital controls to prevent them from collapsing under the weight of mass withdrawals. At the time, Greece's main equity index was down 16 per cent from its 2015 high in February.

If it stays closed much longer, the bourse risks losing its place in the global securities indexes. FTSE Russell, which compiles indexes across major asset classes, said last week it was retaining Greece securities in its indexes for another 10 business days to see if the bourse reopened.

Market participants said unlimited trading for domestic investors could pose a serious risk for struggling Greek lenders.

Experts from the ECB, the International Monetary Fund, the European Stability Mechanism and the European Commission are in Athens to negotiate with Greece on policies to be legislated over the next three years in exchange for a lifeline of as much as €86 billion (S$130 billion). REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Athens Stock Exchange 'to reopen''. Print Edition | Subscribe