22 February 2006

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Business Today

No comment from MSE over alleged insider report

Matthew Vella

The chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange, Joe Zammit Tabona, yesterday said he had no comment to make about a report on The Malta Independent on Sunday which disclosed details over a share transfer that was not yet available to the general public.
Last week, MSE director Mark Guillaumier said the exchange’s council would be discussing the news report on Friday, last week.
Zammit Tabona said he had no comment to make on the issue, or on the news report which warned investors they might end up “getting hurt” if the spiralling share price of national telecoms company Maltacom was not sustained.
“It is our internal affair I feel I have no particular comment to make about the issue,” Zammit Tabona said.
The Malta Financial Services Authority also said it does not disclose whether it is conducting any investigations, or involved in any discussions, on the report, which prompted a depression in Maltacom share prices last week. The authority said it does not conduct its investigations in public.
“For the better information of the public, where the authority is satisfied that the circumstances so warrant, it may at any time make public any order it has given under the Prevention of Financial Markets Abuse Act, or issue a public statement regarding any matter falling within its functions or powers under that Act,” a spokesperson for the authority said.
Maltacom’s soaring share price quickly clambered down to Lm1.93 on Monday 14, up to a closing price of Lm2.00 yesterday.
The MSE received various complaints about the report, and acknowledged the effect of the news report on the Maltacom share price.
Editor Noel Grima reported an alleged transaction occurring on 25 January, which had not yet been available to the general public as part of the MSE’s monthly aggregate data.
The TMIS claimed that on 25 January, “a person bought 230,000 shares, costing Lm448,000 from Barclays Bank (Suisse)”, highlighting Maltacom’s soaring trade since announcing privatisation.
The government is expected to sell its 60 per cent controlling stake at a price which reflects the market value of the company, including a premium for handing over command.
Speculators complained the article had depressed prices at such a sensitive time during privatisation talks.
Guillaumier told Business Today that “certain interpretations” in the TMIS had been “incorrect”.


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