Alternative trading systems were looking mightily attractive for investors who found they couldn't trade BCE Inc. shares on Thursday on two separate occasions.
The Toronto Stock Exchange suffered a technology glitch, which affected the trading orders on about 30 stocks, including BCE, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and Biovail Corp. Then, in the afternoon, the TSX said it was halting trading in BCE shares "until further notice" following "data integrity issues" that sprang from the morning's trading. The last trade was for $32.62, down $4.48 or 12.1 per cent.
To be sure, volume for BCE trading spiked early in the day, to 26.3 million shares, after investors learned that the telecommunication giant's $35-billion takeover by private equity groups had hit a major legal snag. But a TSX spokesperson said the problem with the exchange was more likely due to problems associated with the exchange's technology upgrade.
Either way, though, TSX pains were ATS gains, as investors discovered one of the upsides to having alternative trading platforms. Ian Bandeen, chief executive of Pure Trading, said that the ATS typically trades between 10,000 and 20,000 BCE shares during the day, but volume spiked to 2.5 million shares by Thursday afternoon, on over 2,300 trades.
"From our perspective, everything went beautifully," he said.