CAIRO: Egypt’s stock exchange is looking at ways to help small investors and others hurt when share prices plummeted during political unrest in late January, but it will not cancel any trades, an official said on Wednesday.
The exchange, which has been shut for three weeks because of the unrest that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, will remain closed on Sunday and will not reopen until Egypt’s banks are functioning properly, a second official said.
The central bank closed the country’s banks until next week after employees at a number of state-owned banks went on strike earlier this week.
The stock market’s benchmark index fell 6.1 percent on Wednesday Jan. 26 and another 10.5 percent the day after, the only two sessions when the exchange was open after political protests broke out on Jan. 25.
Mohamed Abdel Salam, deputy chairman of Misr for Clearing Settlement and Central Depositary, said the exchange had no intention of canceling trades despite requests by many investors that it do so.
"Wednesday is already settled, Thursday (Jan. 27) is not settled yet, and there is no intention to cancel the trades executed on Thursday," he said by telephone.
Abdel Salam said the government was looking at ways to help investors who had lost money but was still thrashing out details.
"The minister of finance promised that he will give us some amount of money to support the brokers, and the investors who took credits from the brokers, or margin trade, so now we are in a meeting to discuss how we can do that," he said.
A bourse official said the exchange had been holding a series of meetings with market participants over the last 15 days and was open to suggestions.
"We are considering all comments from all participants in the market," the official said. "Maybe we will take some measures to help small retail investors in cooperation with brokerage firms and the settlement company."
Under its by-laws the exchange is not allowed to cancel the trades, he said.
Abdel Salam also said a number of organizations had set up a sort of mutual fund, the Egyptian Investment Protection Fund, to invest in shares to help boost the market. Investors in the fund would not be able to sell their shares for a year.
He said it was too early to judge how popular the fund would be, because subscriptions were being handled by commercial banks, which have only been open for six working days during the last three weeks.
The market regulator said last week that once it opens the exchange will suspend trade for a half hour if its broad 100-share index declines by 5 percent and for even longer if it falls by 10 percent.