As we discussed in posts of February 25 and March 18, IIROC has requested comments on proposed amendments to the UMIR that would, among other things, repeal short sale price restrictions currently applicable on Canadian markets. The comment period for the proposed amendments is quickly drawing to a close and ends on May 26, 2011. IIROC's proposals would see the repeal of the tick test and introduce the requirement that all short sales be marked as such. However, orders from accounts meeting specific requirements (including certain arbitrage and institutional accounts) would qualify for a "short-marking exempt" designation.
Of particular interest in the notice are IIROC's comments regarding the disclosure of short sale activity. Specifically, in response to the IOSCO principle stating that short selling should be subject to a reporting regime that provides timely information to the market or market authorities, IIROC confirms that it recognizes the problems associated with current short position reporting. IIROC communicates its intention, therefore, to produce and publicly release, semi-monthly, short sale summaries based on aggregated trading data across all marketplaces regulated by IIROC for orders that are marked as short sales, to be implemented following the implementation of the proposed amendments. The nature and scope of this disclosure remains to be seen.
According to IIROC, the CSA and IIROC are proposing to publish a joint notice to solicit feedback on whether additional proposals to enhance disclosure of short sales and failed trades in Canada are required. For example, the joint notice may seek comment on whether "disclosure of short positions by institutional investors may be necessary, similar to 'buy-side' reporting requirements that have been or are being widely implemented in other jurisdictions" as well as the type, level and frequency of public disclosure of failed trades in equity securities traded on all Canadian marketplaces and cleared through CDS.
This subsequent notice on enhanced disclosure, however, has yet to be published. In the U.S., meanwhile, the SEC recently issued a request for comment on the feasibility of requiring real-time reporting of short sale positions of publicly listed securities, either publicly or only to the SEC and FINRA. In a sign of what may be to come in Canada, the SEC notice asks specific questions of market participants, including with respect to the benefits and costs of real time reporting of investors' short positions.