Crestco resists suspension call

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Crestco, the company operating the stock market's new settlement system, is resisting rapidly growing pressure in the City to suspend its commissioning programme while software problems are sorted out.

Some board members favour calling a complete halt to the transfer of companies' share registers to the new Crest settlement system for weeks or months, because of alarm about its performance.

Crestco admitted yesterday a delay of a month or two beyond the April date scheduled for full operation was likely to be an option discussed at a meeting of the board on 25 November. Another possibility could be further delays in transferring FTSE 100 companies to Crest. Crest sources also suggested that the Securities and Futures Authority could limit the amount of business done by some firms that have had difficulty coping with the new system, because of the financial risk of settlement delays.

However, Iain Saville, chief executive, insisted he would resist any delays to the present overall timetable of full operation by April, and he said there was no crisis, "only inevitable teething problems with a very complex system".

Mr Saville said there had been a significant improvement in the performance of the settlement system over the last 10 days. "We hope to demonstrate to the board that Crest is stable enough to push ahead with the transition timetable."