Domestic & General wants speculators unmasked

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The Independent Online

One of the companies at the heart of a share-trading mystery involving the financier Robert Bonnier has demanded changes to the law to unmask users of "contracts for difference", (CFD) complex financial instruments that allow speculators to bet on share price movements without buying or selling the shares.

One of the companies at the heart of a share-trading mystery involving the financier Robert Bonnier has demanded changes to the law to unmask users of "contracts for difference", (CFD) complex financial instruments that allow speculators to bet on share price movements without buying or selling the shares.

Nicholas Rochez, the chairman of the electrical goods warranty group Domestic & General, used his company's annual results statement yesterday to condemn speculative trading in the stock, which sent it soaring on false bid rumours, then crashing when one CFD investor was forced to sell out.

Domestic & General was among five stocks believed to be held by Mr Bonnier through contracts for difference which tumbled last month. It is believed the financier, best known as the founder of directories business Scoot.com, sold other contracts for difference to cover losses at Regal.

Mr Rochez said Domestic & General's board had spent considerable management time trying to understand the volatility in its shares, which went up by more than a third in less than two months, and then down by a fifth in four days. "The recent activity, which affected several other companies at the same time, is not welcome," he said.

He welcomed a Takeover Panel review, which could force the disclosure of interests in contracts for difference during a takeover battle, but the FSA said that additional disclosure would require changes to the Companies Act.

Mr Rochez said: "It is essential that companies are able readily to identify their shareholders. What is not acceptable, in a regime that demands transparency, is the unaccountability and, at best, opacity of such trading instruments."

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