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LSE Opens Four Hours Late Two Weeks After Technology Switch

LSE Says Trading to Resume at 12:15 p.m. in London
Pedestrians cross Paternoster Square in front of the London Stock Exchange in London. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- London Stock Exchange Group Plc opened more than four hours late days after moving to a new electronic system, mirroring a technical fault that halted its Italian market this week.

Trading started at 12:15 p.m. in London today after the exchange resolved a “market data issue,” according to a statement on its website. Trading usually begins at 8 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m.

LSE moved its main market to the MillenniumIT platform on Feb. 14 after three months of delays. Turquoise, the first of the exchange’s markets to make the change, had glitches on its first day of trading in October and the next day was forced to postpone the market open. Today’s outage follows Feb. 22’s 6 1/2-hour delay to the start of trading on the Italian stock exchange, which is owned by LSE and runs its old system.

“Twice in one week with the blame game in full flow does not instill confidence,” said Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers in London. “No one was really able to comment on this till after 8:30 a.m., which is worrying.”

Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet bought Colombo, Sri Lanka-based MillenniumIT in 2009 to overhaul LSE’s technology and compete with alternative trading systems such as Bats Europe and Chi-X Europe Ltd. The Millennium technology replaces TradElect and is designed to stem a loss of market share to rivals with faster systems.

‘Sincerely Regret’

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience that today’s disruption to trading has caused our customers,” Rolet said in an e-mailed statement.

Trading in U.K. stocks continued on competing exchanges during today’s outage. About 33.5 million shares of companies in the FTSE 100 Index changed hands before the LSE opened at 12:15 p.m., 92 percent fewer than by the same time yesterday.

“It is unfortunate for the LSE Group that lightning has struck twice in the same week,” said Hirander Misra, who helped found Chi-X Europe and is now chief executive officer of Algo Technologies Ltd., which offers clients exchange data and access. “Systems are not infallible and outages do occur, however it is essential for any primary market trading system to have a high level of up time.”

LSE shares fell 0.1 percent to 892.5 pence in London trading, compared with a 1.8 percent gain in the FTSE 250 Index.

Turquoise, TMX Purchases

LSE acquired a majority stake in Turquoise, the London-based alternative trading system created by banks, in 2009 and on Feb. 9 agreed to purchase Toronto Stock Exchange owner TMX Group Inc. in an all-share transaction valued at about C$3 billion ($3.1 billion).

LSE was forced to halt trading for more than three hours on Nov. 26, 2009, due to technical problems and in November 2007 a glitch left some traders without prices for as much as 40 minutes. The exchange was closed for almost eight hours on April 5, 2000, because of an issue with the London Market Information Link, a computer system used to connect the exchange with data vendors and dealers. It closed for a day on Oct. 16, 1987, after a severe storm battered southern England, leaving most traders unable to get to work.

On Jan. 27, LSE, Europe’s oldest independent stock market, said sales in its fiscal third-quarter fell 1 percent as revenue from capital markets declined. Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 decreased to 149.1 million pounds ($240 million) from 151.3 million pounds a year earlier.

Chi-x Europe also halted trading of U.K. stocks for about five minutes around 11.15 a.m. today, citing “market data” issues.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nandini Sukumar in London at nsukumar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Merritt at dmerritt1@bloomberg.net.

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