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ASX live updates on COVID-19

15 September 2020 - Media Alert

ASX is revising its temporary emergency capital raising measures

ASX is revising the temporary emergency capital raising measures that help listed entities affected by the COVID19 pandemic. The measures were introduced on 31 March 2020 and are due to expire on 30 November 2020.

From 16 September 2020, any entity wishing to rely on the measures must satisfy ASX that it is raising capital predominantly for the purpose of addressing the existing or potential future financial effect on the entity from the COVID-19 health crisis, and/or its economic impact. 

 

9 July 2020 - Update

ASX is extending temporary emergency capital raising to 30 November 2020

On 31 March 2020, ASX introduced temporary emergency capital raising measures (by way of class waivers) to help listed entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to raise urgently needed capital. The measures included protections for retail investors. These measures were due to expire on 31 July 2020.

ASX has decided to extend its temporary emergency capital raising measures until 30 November 2020.

 

18 June 2020 - Update

Easing of access restrictions to the ALC

Current access restrictions to the Australian Liquidity Centre (ALC) will be eased for customers from Monday 22 June 2020.  

As part of its management of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASX restricted access to the ALC on Friday 27 March.  The decision was made to protect the health and safety of customers and employees, and to ensure the ongoing integrity and reliability of ASX operations.

We thank our customers and stakeholders for their understanding of the decision and for their support during these challenging times. 

In line with recent Government changes to rules regarding public gatherings, ASX will ease some of its current restrictions and increase onsite access for customer operations in the ALC.

 

May 14 2020 - Media Alert

ASX supports the latest action from ASIC to ensure operational resilience in Australia’s equity market.

Now is the appropriate time to lift the trade execution limits given the reduction in extreme market volatility.

ASX will continue to work closely with ASIC and the industry in the interests of the Australian market overall.

We are continuing to enhance the capacity of CHESS. It has always operated with significant headroom above foreseeable activity levels. Recent events underscore the importance of replacing CHESS safely and in a timely manner.

Throughout this extraordinary period, ASX systems and markets have remained open and reliable – there’s been no downtime, no outages, no closures. 

 

5 May 2020 - Interview with the WFE

ASX's Covid-19 business continuity plans and activities 

The latest issue of WFE's Focus magazine looks at the outstanding work of member exchanges and CCPs and what they are doing in the fight against Covid-19, from implementing stringent business continuity plans, to supporting access to capital, and waiving listing fees. ASX's COO Tim Hogben is featured.

1 May 2020 - Compliance Update

Listed@ASX - Update no 05/20

In this edition:

  1. ASX relief on annual listing fees
  2. Minor changes to temporary emergency capital raising relief
  3. The need to engage early with ASX on capital raisings proposing to rely on the Class Waivers
  4. Convertible notes, collateral securities and listing rule 6.1
  5. Contacting your ASX Listings Compliance adviser

 

27 April 2020 - ASX Notice

ASX Bond Roll Tick Change – change to implementation date

ASX will delay the implementation of reduced tick increments for the 3 and 10 Year Bond Futures outright futures and calendar spread market during the week of the Roll.  Our previous market notice 0168.20.02 advised that these tick size changes were to be implemented during the June 2020 roll period.  Instead, these changes will now be implemented in time for the September 2020 roll period, subject to regulatory clearance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a period of substantial market uncertainty, resulting in heightened volatility and reduced liquidity; and most customers are now working under BCP arrangements.  ASX believes that it is prudent to delay this change to futures market structure, allowing our customers extended time for implementation.

Specifically, three important issues have driven this decision to delay implementation:

  • Market participants working under BCP arrangements, with reduced capacity to support market changes. 
  • Significant market uncertainty and volatility during March.
  • Impact of RBA policy changes. 

 

22 April 2020 - Media Release

ASX has released a Compliance Update that includes changes to its temporary emergency capital raising relief measures

The changes clarify certain matters and improve the overall operation of the capital raising measures announced on 31 March. They follow discussions with ASIC and industry and investor groups.

The main changes relate to the temporary lift in placement capacity from 15% to 25%. This is currently conditional on entities either doing a follow-on accelerated pro rata entitlement offer or a placement followed by a share purchase plan (“SPP”) offer at the same or a lower price than the placement. This is so that retail shareholders get to participate in the overall capital raising at a price at least as favourable as the placement.

Entities will now be allowed to do a placement followed by a standard rights issue as well. This change is intended to benefit smaller listed entities that do not have a substantial base of institutional security holders and therefore get no benefit from undertaking an accelerated offer to institutional security holders with a subsequent offer to retail security holders. They can instead now do a standard rights issue to allow all shareholders to participate in the overall capital raising at a price at least as favourable as the placement.

The other main changes are new requirements that an entity taking advantage of the relief:

  • notify ASX before the capital raising whether the capital raising is proposed to be made to raise urgently needed capital to address issues arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or its economic impact or for some other purpose
  • announce to the market the results of the placement, and reasonable details of the approach it took in identifying investors to participate in the placement and how it determined their respective allocations
  • supply to ASIC and ASX (on a confidential basis) a detailed allocation spreadsheet showing the full details of the persons to whom securities were allocated in the placement and the number of securities they were allocated
  • if there is a limit on the amount to be raised under a follow-on SPP offer, disclose why there is such a limit and how the limit was determined in relation to the total proposed fundraising.

There’s also updated guidance on requesting back-to-back trading halts and the cancellation of dividends or distributions.

Please see the attached Listed@ASX Compliance Update for details.

 

March 31 2020 - Media Release

ASX Regulatory Relief and Updated Guidance during COVID-19 Pandemic

ASX has released a Compliance Update that provides regulatory relief and updated guidance to support listed companies and investors during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kevin Lewis, ASX Chief Compliance Officer said: ‘ASX is providing this package of temporary relief and updated guidance to assist listed companies manage their disclosure obligations and to help investors remain informed during this challenging time. With the emergency capital raising provisions, ASX is offering companies the rule flexibility to deal with urgent financial needs, while ensuring ongoing fairness and protection for retail investors. We believe these measures are necessary and pragmatic, and will help ensure Australia’s capital markets continue to be well-functioning.’  

The package includes:

  • Practical guidance on disclosure obligations, including earnings guidance and decisions not to pay a dividend or distribution
  • Temporary emergency capital raising measures to help facilitate capital raisings in the short-term (until 31 July 2020), including an uplift in placement capacity subject to a follow-on accelerated pro rata entitlement offer or SPP offer to retail investors (to help meet the expectation to treat all shareholders fairly) 
  • Action on misleading COVID-19 announcements, including suspension and censure
  • Reporting deadline relief on a case-by-case basis for listed entities with a 30 September, 31 December or 31 March balance date (those with a 31 May or 30 June balance date will be reviewed in due course)
  • Support for ASIC’s ‘no action’ position on upcoming AGMs
  • Reporting relief for ASX/NZX dual-listed entities to facilitate the operation of the class waiver announced by the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority
  • Reminder about the requirement for market announcements to be given to ASX for release to the market first.

  

27 March 2020 – ASX Notice 

ASX is operating at normal hours and will continue to monitor events closely, including advice from government.

The safety of ASX clients, employees, and vendors is our priority. As the situation evolves around the coronavirus (COVID-19), ASX has updated the precautionary measures put in place to ensure the safety of all parties, while continuing to maintain normal operation of our markets, client technology services and our business processes.  Please see updated information on how ASX is responding to this situation in the PDF below. 

 

25 March 2020 - Media Release

ASX consults on timing of CHESS replacement project

ASX is replanning the CHESS replacement implementation timetable due to the uncertainty created by the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. It is also in response to user feedback on timing, requested functionality changes, and the need for ASX to complete aspects of its own readiness. 

The consultation will take place in June 2020, with the opening of the Industry Test Environment still targeted for July 2020.  ASX remains fully committed to replacing CHESS and providing the benefits of distributed ledger technology.

ASX Deputy CEO Peter Hiom said: “We are conscious of the importance of providing a new schedule, and the need to get the valuable input of CHESS users. Right now, however, in this environment of heightened volatility and activity levels, the industry needs to focus on its day-to-day operations. We will therefore wait until June to consult on the new timetable when we expect everyone will have more time to consider the replan and better assess the implications of COVID-19.  We will then announce the new schedule.”

Further information about ASX’s CHESS replacement project can be found here.

22 March 2020 - ASX Notice

Normal Market Operation

ASX is operating at normal hours and will continue to monitor events closely, including advice from government. 

16 March 2020 - Media Release

ASX supports ASIC’s steps to ensure equity market resiliency

ASX’s supports the steps ASIC has announced today to ensure stability and resiliency across the industry. ASX Managing Director and CEO Dominic Stevens said: “The action is sensible and measured. Recent trading volumes on both ASX and Chi-X have been unprecedented. This has presented operational challenges for the industry – albeit the industry has worked together to ensure it has been able to function in these extraordinary circumstances. 

“We recognise today’s action by ASIC is only the first step, and that more consideration needs to be given to a permanent solution. The industry cannot provide unlimited capacity at short notice. Regulators, exchanges, participants and investors will need to come to a decision on what they want for the future. 

“In the meantime, ASX continues to collaborate with the industry. In addition to the steps we have taken to successfully complete our own operational processes during this period of heightened activity, we have worked closely with other market operators and participants to help them complete their operational processes. 

“ASX shares the regulator’s determination to maintain confidence in the integrity of Australia’s financial markets and we will continue to cooperate with ASIC, other market operators and market participants.”

 

15 March 2020 - ASX Notice

ASX confirms normal market operations after a positive case of COVID-19, and asks employees to work from home

ASX reports that one of our employees has tested positive to COVID-19. The advice was received on Saturday 14 March.

In line with ASX policy and the recommendations of health authorities, the employee self-isolated as soon as symptoms were displayed and will remain at home for a period of 14 days.

The employee has mild symptoms, is in good spirits and is not required to be hospitalised.

Following health guidelines, approximately 20 ASX employees that had close contact with the employee, as defined by NSW Health, are also self-isolating and working from home for a fortnight.

The employee was based at ASX’s Bridge Street office in Sydney and had no recent close contact with third parties, including ASX customers or partners.

A deep clean was conducted over the weekend at our Bridge Street premises. This is incremental to the additional hygiene measures that have been in place for some time.

As a further precautionary measure to minimise the risk of the virus spreading, ASX has enacted the next phase of its business continuity plan (BCP). We’ve asked our employees across our various sites – Bridge Street, the Australian Liquidity Centre (ALC), secondary data centre, and interstate and overseas offices – to work remotely until further notice.

The only exceptions are a core group of employees, identified as part of our BCP, who will remain on ASX sites to manage ongoing market functions, mainly in technology, operations and surveillance areas. ASX is executing arrangements for which we have prepared.

Our employees have the capacity to work remotely, which is a normal and regular part of ASX’s BCP and testing activity. Many already work flexibly and/or remotely from our various sites.

ASX has operated its technology and operations from multiple sites since 2013 to ensure uninterrupted service and optimal resiliency in the event of a crisis. This latest development will not disrupt ASX’s normal operations.

The health and safety of ASX employees is our top priority. We are taking a range of actions to manage the impact of COVID-19 on our people and on the markets we operate. These are outlined here: ASX action on COVID-19.

We will continue to be informed by the advice of health authorities and the Government, and take a cautious approach to ensure the wellbeing of our people and ongoing confidence of our stakeholders.

 

11 March 2020 - ASX Notice

ASX action on COVID-19

ASX operates at the heart of Australia’s financial markets. It is vital that our services are available, reliable and resilient at all times, and most especially during periods of heightened volatility.

We would like to assure all our stakeholders that ASX is proactively managing the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to maintain market confidence in the integrity of our operations.

ASX is closely monitoring the status of coronavirus and the advice from health authorities and the Government. We are in close and regular contact with the regulatory agencies—ASIC and the RBA—on this issue, particularly on planning and preparedness. We are also engaging with customers, other market operators and industry associations on their own business continuity arrangements.

As the operator of critically important infrastructure, we are closely monitoring market orderliness and the responsiveness of our risk management processes to changing customer exposures during the heightened volatility. This includes making capital and liquidity return requests of our clearing members and intra-day margin calls, both of which are designed to ensure that participants can meet their obligations. We also continue to keep a close eye on company disclosures, which help ensure the market is appropriately informed.

ASX’s own business continuity planning includes staffing protocols and practices for employees in our offices, and for those that might be working from home, that enable us to continue to operate our critical infrastructure and services such as Smart Hand requests. We currently have no change in lead times or service levels.

Importantly, ASX already operates its technology out of multiple sites, including a backup facility, which enables us to isolate staff in key locations to reduce the risk of contagion and maintain the capability to operate from one location in the event of infection in another. To do this, we identified the critical roles and number of employees needed to maintain our operations, either on-site or by working remotely, should this prove necessary.

For our own people, we have in place a range of measures to help protect staff and their families, as well as contractors and business partners working on our premises, against infection. 

The measures include: 

  • Maintaining multiple sites and back-up teams to continue the operation of the market 
  • Self-isolating and staying home if unwell or if potentially exposed to the virus 
  • Making hand sanitiser dispensers widely available, encouraging good hygiene practices at all times and regularly cleaning high-use areas. 
  • Placing health messages and visitor declaration processes at entry points to ASX facilities 
  • Restricting domestic and international business travel 
  • Conducting meetings with external attendees electronically as much as possible 
  • Declining requests to hold events on ASX premises or to attend events being held elsewhere
  • Being ready and able to work from home if required. 

ASX is mindful of the responsibility we have to our customers, issuers, investors, regulators and the broader economy to actively manage risk and ensure the operational resiliency of our services.

We will continue to monitor the situation and are well prepared to introduce additional precautionary measures as appropriate.