SGX chief: Hardware issue caused disruption

Mr Loh said SGX was devoting all necessary resources to review its recovery process.
Mr Loh said SGX was devoting all necessary resources to review its recovery process.

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) chief yesterday apologised for Thursday's long trading outage, but offered few details other than to say it was caused by a hardware issue.

The conference call hosted by Mr Loh Boon Chye left many questions unanswered about what was behind the bourse's longest blackout.

During the 30-minute session, reporters asked him about the reasons for the disruption .

He said: "Our focus was to recover, minimise downtime and resume trading. We're now devoting all necessary resources to review our recovery process and work on any gaps to better our recovery time."

Mr Loh's comments did not add much to the SGX statement, released before the market opened yesterday, that a "technology issue" affected its trade confirmation processes and forced it to halt trading at 11.38am on Thursday to allow the reconciliation of duplicate or missing messages.

The Straits Times understands that the process took much longer than expected because the SGX had to generate three sets of files to enable the reconciliation.

Mr Loh said the issue "was triggered by hardware". He added that Nasdaq provided the technology for the trade confirmation system.

When contacted, the US market technology giant confirmed it provided only the software to SGX and not the hardware.

Mr Loh gave no further details on the hardware issue, saying only that it was not similar to the power fault that caused November 2014's three-hour disruption.

He did not single out any particular employee or department for blame, saying: "We are accountable as a company."

He added: "I wish to sincerely apologise, on behalf of all of SGX, for the inconvenience we've caused... We're not pleased with our recovery time, it has to be better, and we'll do better."

A review has been launched with more details to be given next week.

SGX will waive the buy-in penalty for short sellers unable to cover their open positions owing to Thursday's disruption. The short selling was "insignificant", Mr Loh said.

Remisiers welcomed the move, but some were upset. Mr Soh Wee Boon from a local brokerage said that while his clients were mostly unaffected, he raised concerns about the impact on SGX's reputation from the latest disruption.

The market reopened yesterday at 9am and trading proceeded smoothly with the benchmark Straits Times Index closing up 0.63 per cent at 2,925.35 points. But SGX shares lost 0.64 per cent to close at $7.74.

One key issue is what penalty the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will impose on SGX.

"MAS takes a serious view over the closure of SGX's securities market. SGX has a responsibility to ensure that its system and recovery processes are robust," the central bank said in a statement yesterday, adding that it has instructed SGX to submit an investigation report.

For now, SGX should focus on preventing further outages, OCBC Research head Carmen Lee said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'SGX chief: Hardware issue caused disruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe