Starting from Monday, South Korea will re-implement a short-selling ban, which will remain in effect until at least June, according to financial authorities.
The decision aims to create a more equitable environment for both retail and institutional investors.
This move comes after the ban was lifted in May 2021 for shares of companies with significant market capitalization listed in the KOSPI200 and KOSDAQ150 share price indices, while it remained in place for most other stocks.
Short-selling involves selling borrowed shares with the intention of buying them back at a lower price to profit from the price difference.
Kim Joo-hyun, the Chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), explained during a news briefing that the ban’s purpose is to address the imbalance between institutional and retail investors in the market.
He noted that amid ongoing financial market uncertainty, major foreign investment banks have been involved in unfair trading practices. As a result, maintaining fair trading discipline has become challenging.
The FSC plans to assess market activity in June to determine whether significant improvements have occurred that would allow for the ban to be lifted.
Additionally, the regulator recently announced the formation of an investigative team tasked with probing short-selling activities by foreign investment banks, particularly focusing on illegal practices like naked short-selling.
Naked short-selling, where investors short-sell shares without first securing borrowed shares or confirming their availability for borrowing, is prohibited in South Korea.
In October, the Financial Supervisory Service indicated its intention to impose fines on two Hong Kong-based investment banks that engaged in naked short-selling transactions worth 40 billion won ($29.58 million) and 16 billion won, respectively.
Earlier in the year, the regulator had already fined five foreign firms, including Credit Suisse, for engaging in naked short-selling.
The uncertainty surrounding short-selling regulations has been a notable factor that needs resolution for influential index provider MSCI to consider upgrading South Korea to a developed-market status.
As South Korea takes these steps to promote fairness and transparency in its financial markets, it hopes to enhance its reputation and attract greater international investment interest.