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Controversy arises over location of alternative stock exchange

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Busan's skyline at Haeundae District / gettyimagesbank
Busan's skyline at Haeundae District / gettyimagesbank

By Lee Min-hyung

Controversy is arising over the location of an alternative stock exchange (ATS), as Nextrade, a newly established exchange operator, has submitted its plan to place its headquarters in Seoul.

Nextrade got its preliminary license to start its business as early as 2025. The company said it would set up its head office in Seoul. But Busan, the second-largest city in Korea, expressed opposition to the move.

Nextrade argued that its headquarters should be located in Seoul's Yeouido financial district, nearby most securities firms operating there.

However, Busan Metropolitan City countered the argument, saying that, as the Korea Exchange headquarters is located in Busan, the alternative exchange should also be there.

Industry officials said the alternative exchange should be in Seoul.

"The headquarters of the Korea Development Bank (KDB) are moving from the nation's capital city to Busan, but this was just political pressure," an industry source said.

Meanwhile, SK C&C won a contract to establish the platform for the alternative trading system (ATS) for the first time in Korea.

Nextrade's new ATS is teaming up with 19 securities firms, three relevant authorities and four IT companies for the establishment of its multilateral trading platform.

It has been confirmed what services will be available through the ATS, and investors expect the exchange to engage in stock transactions even at night. For now, investors can buy and sell listed stocks here between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on business days only.

Korea Exchange Chairman and CEO Sohn Byung-doo shared his opinion on the establishment of the ATS.

"Even if the ATS establishment is a step in the right direction in terms of upgrading the capital market infrastructure here, the ATS should also be subject to similar regulations as the Korea Exchange," he said in January.

Despite the exchange operator's cautious reaction, the drive is generally receiving favorable responses as the introduction of the ATS is widely expected to attract more capital to the local stock market.

Lee Min-hyung


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