July 28, 2015 / 12:00 PM / in 2 years

Greece awaiting ECB consent to reopen stock market

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece is waiting for the green light from the European Central Bank on plans it has submitted to reopen the Athens stock market after a month-long shutdown, two regulatory sources said on Tuesday.

A European Union flag flutters outside the Athens stock exchange, Greece, July 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The exchange could reopen as early as Wednesday depending on the ECB’s opinion, the sources said.

Greek regulators offered two different plans for the reopening - one allowing unrestricted trading and a second that imposed restrictions on trading by Greek investors to prevent capital fleeing banks, the sources said.

“Whether we will open tomorrow or another day depends on when we get a response from the ECB,” one of the sources said.

“It’s not certain that we will open tomorrow.”

The Athens stock exchange has been shut since June 29 after the government shut banks and imposed capital controls to prevent banks from collapsing under the weight of mass withdrawals.

At that point, Greece’s main equity index .ATG was already down 16 percent from its 2015 high, hit in February.

If it remains closed much longer, the bourse risks its place in the global securities indices. FTSE Russell, which compiles indexes across major asset classes, said last week it was retaining Greece securities in its indices for another 10 business days to see if the Greek bourse reopened.

Market participants said that unlimited trading for domestic investors could pose a serious risk for Greek lenders which are already struggling with deposit outflows and depend on ECB emergency funding to stay afloat.

“The problem is that if the trading starts without restrictions, then many Greeks could withdraw their deposits and turn them into shares or bonds,” Takis Zamanis, chief trader at Athens-based brokerage Beta Securities told Reuters.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou, Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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