هيئة السوق تقرر تخفيض الضوابط على الشركات لشراء اسهمها
(ملاحظة قمت بوضع الخبر كامل خوفا من عدم عمل الرابط)
The Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday waived certain corporate stock buyback restrictions amid a strong desire from major corporations to buy up their stock when the markets re-open next week.
It is the first time the SEC, the nation's top financial watchdog agency, has used its emergency powers to temporarily relax certain regulatory restrictions.
The SEC said companies would be able to buyback their stock without meeting ordinary volume and timing restrictions and without incurring adverse accounting consequences.
The loosened rules take effect Monday and will last throughout the week.
Under normal circumstances, a company is barred from purchasing its stock in the opening transaction or in the last 30 minutes of trading. And single-day purchases cannot constitute more than 25 percent of the trading volume.
SEC officials could not be immediately reached for additional comment. Regular market rules also bar a company from purchasing its stock at a price higher than the last sale price or independent bid.
While no one is exactly sure how market trading will play out early next week, many companies appear poised to take advantage of the relaxed rules.
Cisco (CSCO: news, chart, profile), Pfizer (PFE: news, chart, profile), H&R Block (HRB: news, chart, profile) and HCC Insurance (HCC: news, chart, profile) all announced or reiterated plans on Thursday and Friday to buyback their stock from time to time when the markets re-open. None of the companies disclosed plans about how much stock they plan to buyback on Monday or if they will in fact carry out such a transaction.
But they welcomed the SEC's move to loosen the restrictions.
"This puts us in an excellent position to help our shareholders," said Mark Barnett, head of investor relations at H&R Block, the nation's No. 1 tax preparer. "We will be able to support our stock if we see significant selling."
On Friday, H&R Block's board authorized the repurchase of an additional 15 million shares. The Kansas City-based company has nearly exhausted a 12 million-share buyback program launched in March 2000.
HCC Insurance also announced plans to repurchase as much as 3 million shares, or 5.1 percent of its outstanding common stock. The Houston-based company said it is the first time it has ever authorized a buyback program since it went public eight years ago.
The company said the move is intended to protect its shareholders against any volatility.
"We don't know what's going to happen," said L. Bryon Way, vice president of HCC Insurance. "This will help create a orderly market for our stock."
Cisco Systems (CSCO: news, chart, profile), one of the most widely held technology stock on the market, announced on Thursday that its board had approved a buyback of up to $3 billion. Drug maker Pfizer said it would resume its authorized 120 million-share buyback.
Securities lawyers backed the SEC's decision to allow companies to step up as buyers for their stock if the market begins to tank, saying the agency is adequately balancing its competing interests. Relaxing corporate buyback rules would normally prompt concerns about investor gouging, they say.
"The intent is good, not manipulative," said Harry Weiss, a securities lawyer at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. "Companies want to buy stock to reassure stockholders and the country."
"This is positive for investors," said John Huber, a securities lawyer at Latham & Watkins in Washington D.C., "and a wise move that will benefit the markets."
The U.S. stock market, the world's largest, will open Monday after its longest close since the Great Depression in the wake of the tragic terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D.C.
Matt Andrejczak is a reporter for CBS.MarketWatch.com.