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Australia extends short-selling ban, fears “attack”

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Monday, Sept 22, 2008

Australia extended its ban on short-selling of shares on Sunday, following the United States, Britain and some other European markets in cracking down on a practice that regulators fear could worsen the global financial crisis.

Short-selling is a tactic designed to profit from falling share prices, is favored by hedge funds and has been blamed for some hair-raising plunges in world stock markets in recent days.

On Friday, the Australia regulator banned the most controversial form of short-selling, known as “naked” short sales, but did not go as far as U.S. or European regulators which also banned the more traditional form of “covered” short selling.

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But the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said in a statement on Sunday that it would also ban covered short selling, which, unlike naked short-selling, requires the seller to first borrow the stock in question from a genuine investor.

The commission noted that the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and Canada’s Ontario market had all decided late last week to crack down on covered short-selling, raising the risk that short-sellers would now “attack” Australia.

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This article was posted: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 11:33 am

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