Exchange bypasses fax for facts

Embarrassing errors and delays in Stock Exchange announcements should be a thing of the past from August onwards, as a result of a new service to be announced shortly.

The Exchange is to offer companies on its main and alternative markets a free facility to transfer announcements directly to the regulatory news service.

At the moment more than 70 per cent of the 3,000 announcements a week issued on the screens arrive by fax as hard copy, which has to be retyped into the computers, which takes time and leaves room for errors.

Recently the results of the Pelican Group were wrongly input and a correction had to be transmitted an hour later. Publication delays can build up to a couple of hours during heavy news periods.

From August, companies and their agents are to be offered new data processing software and a free modem to link them to the Exchange, speeding up the process and eliminating errors, except those made by companies.

Some companies do transmit directly but the software is old and it is not possible to format tables, which is why so many still send their results on paper.

The new software will run on Microsoft Windows and will automatically convert announcements to the format required by the Exchange.

Separately, John Kemp-Welch, chairman of the Stock Exchange, has called for changes in legislation to create a more effective deterrent against insider trading and fraud. The law had not kept pace with the ability of technology to monitor transactions.

"The burden of proof needed to secure convictions in cases of insider trading remains too high," he said.