Wiener Börse and the Stock Exchange Act
Wiener Börse is Austria’s only stock exchange and also the only general commodity exchange. The only other exchanges that exist in Austria are the ones for agricultural products in Vienna, Graz and Linz-Wels.
The securities industry is regulated by the Austrian Stock Exchange Act 1989 (FLG. No. 555/1989), as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No. 60/2007
The management and operation of the stock exchange, Wiener Börse, was the responsibility of Council of the Vienna Stock Exchange (Wiener Börsekammer), which was an entity under public law, until 1998. Since April 1998, Wiener Börse has been managed by a private sector company. Wiener Börse AG has been assigned the authority to act as public agency for certain tasks (e.g. admission of securities to official listing).
The amendments to the Stock Exchange Act (SEA) of past years have changed and greatly improved the legal framework. Among others, the following areas have been amended:
- The abuse of inside information (Art. 48b SEA) and market manipulation (Art. 48c) have been made a criminal offence.
- Introduction of the obligation on issuers to take the suitable organizational measures to prevent the abuse of passing on of inside information ( Art. 82 par. 5 fig. 3 SEA and Compliance Decree for Issuers. The Decree is available at www.fma.gv.at
- Obligation of issuers to disclose price-sensitive information (82 par. 5 SEA, more information is available at www.fma.gv.at
- Greater reporting obligations with respect to changes in significant shareholdings: if the share of voting rights of securities listed on the Official Market is equal to, higher or less than 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 75% or 90%, this fact must be reported (Art. 91 SEA).
- Obligation to prepare interim reports (Art. 87 SEA)
Opening membership and easing membership rules (trading participant) for companies from third countries (Art. 15 SEA)
Since the amendment to Federal Act, FLG I No. 60 of 31 July 2007, which entered into force on 1 November 2007, a distinction has been made between the operation of regulated markets and Multilateral Trading Systems (MTF).
A regulated market is a multilateral system operated and/or managed by a market operator in Austria or in a member state, which brings together or facilitates the matching of multiple third-party buy and sell interests in financial instruments within the system in accordance with non-discretionary rules in such a way that results in a contract in those financial instruments admitted to trading under the rules and systems of the market.
The FMA shall keep a list of regulated markets.
Regulated markets in Austria in the meaning of the Stock Exchange Act are the Official Market and the Second Regulated Market.
The operation of regulated markets in Austria shall require a license from the Financial Market Authority (FMA).
Wiener Börse AG is an exchange operating company and has a license for the operation of regulated markets.
The operation of an MTF is an investment service that requires a license from the FMA and is subject to the provisions of the Securities Supervision Act.
The operator of a regulated market shall be authorized to operate an MTF under a separate permit issued by the Financial Market Authority (see Art. 2 par. 2a SEA).
The differentiation made between the operation of regulated markets and the operation of Multilateral Trading Systems (MTF) has resulted in repeal of Article 69 Stock Exchange Act regarding the unregulated Third Market, as this market is deemed an MTF.
Wiener Börse AG as the exchange operating company operates the Multilateral Trading System as the continuation of the unregulated Third Market pursuant to Art. 69 SEA as valid prior to the entry into force of the SEA FLG. I No. 60/2007 on the basis of separate General Terms and Conditions, the “Rules for the Operation of the Third Market“, which have been prepared with the approval of the FMA.
Trading in financial instruments on the Third Market does not require any formal admission procedures to the exchange.
The requirements of the Stock Exchange Act regarding financial instruments admitted to trading on a regulated market, especially the obligations imposed on issuers, do not apply to the financial instruments traded on the Third Market as an MTF.