Crest upgrade to handle floats

The new Crest share settlement system is having to be upgraded to cope with the raft of flotations of building societies later this year, writes Jill Treanor. The upgrade comes before the current system is fully rolled out.

To deal with the additional workload from the flotations and to cope with the ongoing programme of putting FTSE 100 companies on to the system, the number of Tandem processors used to run Crest will be increased by six to 16.

Some Footsie stocks that have been delayed from joining the system will start to be included from next week. They include BSkyB and Tomkins from Monday. CrestCo, the company that runs Crest, is also considering upgrading to a more powerful version of the technology, which may have to be funded by higher tariffs from users of the system.

"It's entirely prudent that we think of upgrading the hardware and leasing six new processors," said Paul Symons, manager at CrestCo.

CrestCo is working with the securities industry to establish ways to deal with the increased flow of business from the flotations of Halifax, Alliance & Leicester, Woolwich and Northern Rock, and hopes to build on ideas used by the Stock Exchange for some of the large privatisations in the 1980s.

A working party had been set up, said Mr Symons, who added that the transition of shares to Crest from Talisman, the current system, is expected to be completed on schedule on 7 April.