JSE pauses markets in historic move

Lisa Steyn

In a move unprecedented in its 125-year history, the Johannesburg stock exchange stalled trading for five minutes on Friday in a tribute to Mandela.

All JSE staff, other than those monitoring operations, assembled in front of the building housing the exchange to reflect on the life and passing of Nelson Mandela. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Johannesburg stock exchange JSE paused trading on its markets for five minutes on Friday morning, a historic move, ?in commemoration of the passing of Nelson Mandela.

"As a sign of respect of the Johannesburg stock exchange and the financial services industry for former South African president Nelson Mandela, all JSE markets will be paused five minutes at 11am on Friday, December 6 2013," the exchange said.

Leanne Parsons, director of the equity market at the JSE, said the exchange had never before halted its markets in this way:  "Aside from something [like] a technical problem, but not all the markets, and never to commemorate a death."

Parsons said the exchange did not need to necessarily consult with the market to facilitate the five-minute shutdown.

"The JSE has its own governance processes wherein we can determine how we deal with things like this. The ability to halt the market lies within the exchange's ordinary business continuity planning."

Cause for reflection
Business continuity planning normally involves defining potential risks, and implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate them.

In a case such as this, "we would reflect on whether we want to pause the markets or not", Parsons said.

She said the halt did not impact the markets but allowed "the entire financial community to take a break and reflect themselves on the Madiba legacy". Parsons said the exchange had not had any reported issues as a result of the move.

Pausing the market at 11am was key. "We don’t want to overlap with other market events," Parsons said.

For those five minutes, all JSE staff, other than those monitoring operations, assembled in front of the building to reflect on the life and passing of Mandela.

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