The FSMA prohibition of Short Selling in the Wake of Coronavirus

A guestpost by Fahad Al-Sadoon (student KU Leuven and University Zurich)

Short selling is an investment strategy, where an investor will borrow a security (typically from a broker-dealer or an institutional investor, such as a mutual fund), at current price and will immediately sell it. Later on, when the security’s price (hopefully) has declined, the investor will buy it back at the new price. The difference between the two prices is the profit of the investor[i]. In other words, it is a practice used by investors to speculate on the decline in a stock or other securities prices. If generalized, it will concretely induce a price decline of a security. Some might argue that the fact that an important number of investors are shorting a stock is only the genuine indication that the latter is overvalued, while for others massively shorting a stock can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy on the stock exchange.

Unbridled short selling has been blamed by governments and some economists for exacerbating volatility during times of stress. Indeed, some would say that it can contribute to price declines in the securities of financial institutions, in a manner that is unrelated to the true price valuation[ii]. Some extreme forms of short selling can even use false rumours in order to manipulate the market and obtain the targeted (reduced) price[iii]. As a consequence, during the financial turmoil of 2008 a plethora of regulators in several countries temporarily banned short selling on certain stocks in order to improve investor confidence and reduce volatility[iv].

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According to the FSMA, the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic is at the source of substantial selling pressure and unusual volatility in the price of shares of financial institutions. As a consequence, some investors might be tempted to take new positions in order to profit from a future price decrease, which might in turn accelerate the falls already experienced in the past days and aggravate the current economic disturbance seriously. Thus, the FSMA has decided to take the following measures in a specific timeline: Continue reading “The FSMA prohibition of Short Selling in the Wake of Coronavirus”

Trading fever: COVID-19 and the prohibition of insider dealing

A guest post by Michiel Stuyts

The new corona virus affects all aspects of our lives. As law reflects human activity, so does COVID-19 raise questions in virtually all legal domains. Securities law is no exception. Due to the threat that the virus poses for financial market stability, short selling is being temporarily banned left and right[1] and is monitored more strictly[2] and supervisory authorities have started warning against fraudulent schemes attempting to profit from ongoing market volatility[3]. As regards market abuse, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is well aware of the risk that the new corona virus poses for insider dealing and has stated that “issuers should disclose as soon as possible any relevant significant information concerning the impacts of COVID-19 on their fundamentals, prospects or financial situation in accordance with their transparency obligations under the Market Abuse Regulation”[4]. However, due to the pervasive nature of the virus and the drastic extent of governmental measures taken to combat it, it seems that the market abuse risk lies not so much with individual issuers and their shares but is rather elevated to a wholly different level.

Recently newspapers have reported that certain US senators have dumped their personal stock in January and February 2020 before the severity of the virus’ consequences on the US health system, economy and stock market became clear to the public[5]. Some of the senators reportedly received private briefings about the virus from administration officials. All the while, President Trump confirmed his confidence in the stock market through his favourite social media outlet[6]. Calls for the senators’ resignation due to alleged insider dealing grow increasingly loud. It is unclear how the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will tackle this matter, if at all.

It is interesting to assess the case from an EU law perspective. Continue reading “Trading fever: COVID-19 and the prohibition of insider dealing”

Garantieregeling voor particulieren en bedrijven getroffen door coronacrisis

De coronacrisis betekent een regelrechte aanslag op de liquiditeit van vele ondernemingen. Om het economisch weefsel intact te houden, heeft de federale regering op initiatief van de Minister van Financiën en met ondersteuning van de Nationale Bank van België, een overeenkomst uitgewerkt met de financiële sector. Details van deze overeenkomst zijn vandaag gepubliceerd op de website van de Nationale Bank. Continue reading “Garantieregeling voor particulieren en bedrijven getroffen door coronacrisis”

Ondertussen in Nederland – hervorming van het insolventierecht

Met de invoering van boek XX WER heeft de Belgische wetgever het insolventierecht recent op punt gesteld. Verwacht wordt dat de coronacrisis op korte termijn tot bepaalde bijsturingen zal leiden. De basis is er echter, met het faillissement (gericht op liquidatie) enerzijds en de gerechtelijke reorganisatie (gericht op continuïteit) anderzijds. In die zin is België voorbereid op de nakende crisis. De situatie is anders in Nederland. Daar woedt het debat over de hervorming van het insolventierecht reeds geruime tijd, met een voor Belgische juristen verrassende academische intensiteit. Dit debat is vorige week in een stroomversnelling geraakt (zie de berichtgeving hierover in het FD). Continue reading “Ondertussen in Nederland – hervorming van het insolventierecht”

CERIL Executive Statement on COVID-19 – Call to Action

On 20 March 2020, the Executive of CERIL (Conference of European Restructuring and Insolvency Law) expressed its deep concern with the ability of existing (European) insolvency legislation to provide adequate responses to the extremely difficult situation in which many companies find themselves as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 (corona) virus. It therefore calls upon EU and European national legislators to take immediate action and adapt insolvency legislations, in order to prevent unnecessary bankruptcies of entrepreneurs. Continue reading “CERIL Executive Statement on COVID-19 – Call to Action”

De openportaalbenadering (nu meer dan ooit)

Elk advocatenkantoor heeft ondertussen via LinkedIn laten weten dat het beschikbaar blijft voor haar cliënten. Dit is het minste van wat – volgens de wetgever – een essentiële beroepsgroep verwacht mag worden. Huidige post is geen reclame maar strekt er gewoon toe de fundamentals van de procedure van gerechtelijke reorganisatie in herinnering te brengen, en dan in het bijzonder de openportaalbenadering. Continue reading “De openportaalbenadering (nu meer dan ooit)”