MUMBAI, June 6 (Reuters) - India’s National Stock Exchange is talking with the market regulator to settle any issues and accept a penalty tied to the disclosure that some brokers may have been given unfair access to NSE servers, two sources familiar with the matter said.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is probing whether NSE employees gave some algorithmic and high-frequency traders preferential access to NSE servers.
The investigation is delaying NSE’s planned initial public offering, expected to be worth up to $1 billion, and the sources said the bourse wanted to settle the issue and move on.
NSE disclosed in December it had hired a consultancy firm to look into the matter, but the consultants had been unable to prove collusion between brokers and NSE employees.
Local media reported last week that the regulator had sent notifications to several NSE employees, requesting more information. SEBI has not publicly spoken about the case, leaving unclear where the probe stands.
The sources said NSE officials were keen to move ahead with the IPO, and said the exchange would be willing to settle, without admitting wrong-doing, and accept a penalty.
The exchange filed for the listing in December but has yet to gain the regulator’s approval.
“A mechanism is being worked out to reach a settlement with SEBI, but a penalty is inevitable,” said one of the sources.
Both sources declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
Emails to NSE and SEBI went unanswered.
As part of its disclosure in December, NSE said it had set aside all revenue from the related servers for the past 2-1/2 years amounting to 13.1 billion rupees ($192 million), or close to 30 percent of its total revenues during that period.
NSE’s foreign shareholders, keen for an exit, have been pushing the bourse for a faster listing for more than a year and the timing of the IPO had caused friction in the past.
The second source said top investors were looking for “certainty and clarity” on the issue and added that they understand that the matter is “not really under our control.”
“We are not having any stress or tension on the stakeholder front, which we had earlier,” said the source. “We want to get on with our lives.” (Reporting by Abhirup Roy; Editing by Rafael Nam and Susan Fenton)