By Angelos Anastasiou
A short extension to the suspension of the trading of its shares or its delisting are the only two options available to Bank of Cyprus (BoC) at the moment, head of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) Demetra Kalogerou said yesterday.
Kalogerou said that before the BoC could be relisted on the stock exchange, the bank needed to publish an offering circular disclosing the latest financial and other vital information – such as prospects and risks facing the bank – to investors.
Trading in BoC shares was suspended last April following the March Eurogroup decisions for a nine-month period, ending this month.
Kalogerou said that the bank has missed the deadline for publishing an offering circular – a precondition for the Commission to consider relisting the issuer – as the Commission needed to evaluate its contents before referring the request to the CySEC board to decide on whether to relist the bank.
“There are a number of actions to be carried out before the share can be relisted,” Kalogerou said. “For example, the stock exchange register must be updated – it still lists the old company shareholders.”
As a result, the Commission head conceded that the initial plan’s nine-month suspension provision was no longer applicable and must be revised. “Now we need to talk to the bank and find out what their timeframes are – if there are timeframes – so that we can decide on the way forward.”
The Commission has requested a meeting with BoC officials, set to take place within the next few days, in order to seek clarification of the bank’s intentions and action plan.
“If they intend to act in a timely way, we can grant a reasonable extension of the suspension period before considering relisting,” Kalogerou said.
“Otherwise, the only other option is to delist the company completely.”
The CySEC chairwoman declined to offer specifics on how long a ‘reasonable’ extension may be, though she confirmed that it would be less than six months.
Kalogerou conceded that although a nine-month suspension of trading was “unheard of” for the Cyprus Stock Exchange, “extraordinary circumstances warranted such suspension.”
“Such extraordinary circumstances may still apply, and that’s why we are ready to consider an extension,” she explained.
The initial nine-month window is set to close at the end of January and one way or another CySEC has to make a decision.
Following Kalogirou’s statements, sources from inside the BoC claimed to be “not worried” about the issue. The bank said it has already completed many of the actions requested by CySEC, and is currently in the process of finalising the remaining items.
With regard to the offering circular, characterized as a “thorny issue”, the bank sources said it is “bound to take some time” because of the enormous changes that occurred throughout last year.
However they expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved and the bank will provide all the necessary information at the meeting with the CySEC on Friday.