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ASX says merger with NZSE not top priority

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Wednesday 23rd August 2000

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The Australian Stock Exchange says links with Singapore and North America are being given a higher priority than any possible merger with the NZSE.

A merger between the exchanges has been mooted, and representatives from both sides of the Tasman have been meeting to investigate the possibility.

But in its full year result the ASX says in the immediate term, resourcing priorities for international linkages remain focused on implementing the links to the Singapore and North American markets.

In its result the ASX announced a profit after tax and before abnormals of A$57.8 million, up 61%, and a final dividend of 31.9 cents, up from 19.4 cents last year.

The ASX says share ownership in Australia has continued to grow strongly in the past year, and by November 1999, 7.6 million Australians owned shares either directly or indirectly via a managed fund or personal superannuation, representing 53.7% of the Australian adult population. The figure compares with 40.3% of the population in October 1998.

Over the same period the number of stocks held in the average portfolio increased from 3.1 to 6, however 62% of investors still hold three stocks or less.

The ASX says similarly, the average number of equities trades has increased from less than one per year to 1.8 over the same time period, although 65% of shareholders still made either one or zero trades in the last year.

The ASX says it expects these factors, combined with the improving access to information, the growth in popularity of education programs, the growth in superannuation, changes to capital gains tax and the abolition of stamp duty in July 2001, will all contribute to both increased retail interest in the equities market and growth in other investment products over the longer-term, as investors seek to diversify their portfolios.

The exchange says it expects a continued growth in volumes over the longer-term, corresponding with the growth in the number of Australian investors and their increasing level of activity, underpinned by favourable economic reforms.

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