Stock Exchange to demand firms advise of Y2K status

By July, all companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSE) will have to report whether they are Y2K-compliant or not. Last week managing director Bill Foster reaffirmed his commitment to a letter concerning year 2000 compliance sent out in September 1998 to all listed companies.

By July, all companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZSE) will have to report whether they are Y2K-compliant or not.

Last week managing director Bill Foster reaffirmed his commitment to a letter concerning year 2000 compliance sent out in September 1998 to all listed companies. The letter reads: “The Exchange will be requiring listed companies to advise the market whether or not all their systems and business operations are year 2000-compliant.”

“Everybody seems to have a sufficient level of interest in it that we will go ahead and do it,” says Foster.

Foster’s stance is supported by the latest survey conducted on behalf of the Readiness Commission. The Business Survey, completed in February, found that 21% of New Zealand’s businesses hadn’t started their Y2K project.

Only New Zealand companies on the NZSE are required to list their level of compliance — those that are also listed off-shore are not required to report on their Y2K projects. “We have a reply [to the letter] from every New Zealand-listed company on our site,” says Foster. The responses on the NZSE site (www.nzse.co.nz) range from single-paragraph responses, like Bay of Plenty Electricity’s response, to Telecom’s 10-page response that includes a letter from Telecom’s lawyer.

But Foster says he can’t measure whether the responses are adequate or not; he only collates them. “I don’t pass judgement on the responses one way or another. We provide a facility for companies to tell the market about their readiness. Shareholders can use that to judge whether they are happy with what the companies are saying.”

NZSE first contacted its members about Y2K in March last year. In the letter, Foster announced the NZSE will not follow Australia’s decision requiring listed companies to make regular disclosures. Despite asking for a response by April, Foster was forced to follow up with a threat to publish the names of companies that do not respond. A follow-up letter in September reiterated the NZSE stance and called for companies to use annual reports as a way of communicating Y2K status to shareholders.

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