The history of Oslo Børs

In the early 1800s, Norway was a country of farmers and fishermen. Christiania, as the capital city was then called, had just 10,000 inhabitants. The Norwegian economy was weak, and money was scarce. This had a crushing effect on business and industry, and it was decided that the country needed a commercial exchange to encourage greater commercial activity.

The merchant Nicolay Andresen is generally recognised as the "father" of the Oslo stock exchange. He made the first proposal for a commercial exchange to the Norwegian parliament in 1818, and a small committee of four leading businessmen was established to progress the idea.

 

Stock Exchange Act of 1818

King Carl Johan signed the first Stock Exchange Act on 8 September 1818. In April 1819, the Christiania Exchange (Christiania Børs) opened its first offices at Madam Jørgen Pløens Gaard on Toldbodgaten (now the Fred. Olsen building). The exchange's opening hours were 11.00 to 13.00 on Mondays and Thursdays. This was considered "sufficient to accommodate the business to be carried out on the exchange".

At this time, the main business carried out on the exchange was currency trading and the purchase and sale of bills of exchange. The exchange did not become a commodity exchange to any great extent until the start of the next century, when prices were listed for a range of goods in the years leading up to the First World War. The exchange first started to list financial instruments on a limited scale in 1881, with prices for thirty bonds and shares. Railway shares accounted for a major part of these first listed securities.

 

A home for the exchange

In 1823, the exchange committee invited subscriptions for a bond issue to finance the "Construction of an Exchange in Christiania". A young architecture student, Christian Heinrich Grosch, heard of the plans and the exchange building was his first assignment in Christiania as one of the two first civilian architects to qualify in Norway. He went on to design the university, the old Norges Bank building and a number of other official buildings.

The new exchange building was formally opened on 3 January 1829, and was the first monumental building to be constructed in Norway following the declaration of independence from Denmark in 1814. In the early years the building was also used for bazaars, exhibitions and hospitality. In addition the Christiania City Council held its meetings in the building until 1880.

 

Currency and commodity trading

The exchange originally had two purposes: as an exchange for foreign currencies and as an auction house for "goods, ships and ship chandlery". Prices were fixed twice a week for the Norwegian currency of the time (spesidaler) against the German, English, Dutch, French and Danish currencies. Commodity trading did not achieve any significant volume until the start of the 1900s, when prices were quoted for a list of goods including sugar, flour, potato flour, butter, fruit, cooking oil, various foods, green soap, herring oil, herring meal and fish.

The level of activity increased steadily up until the outbreak of the First World War, and in 1914 the exchange started to open on three rather than two days a week. When war broke out in August 1914 it was decided that brokers should meet at the exchange on a daily basis, but in the later years of the war the Norwegian government introduced rationing and price ceilings on many food products and the exchange was forced to discontinue setting prices for many commodities.

 

Daily price fixing was first introduced for foreign currencies, starting in 1907, and this continued right through until 31 August 1991 when the central bank took over the responsibility for setting daily exchange rates. The exchange ceased listing prices for commodities in 1963, save for egg prices, which continued to be quoted as part of the national agriculture agreement up until the end of 1974. This represented the end of a long and tradition-rich period in the history of the exchange in Oslo.

The decline in activity for foreign exchange and commodity trading seen after the First World War did not cause a fall in activity for the exchange since interest turned instead to the previously modest trade in stocks and shares.

 

Securities exchange

Stocks and shares were little known in Norway before 1818. The first issue of shares in the sense that we recognise today took place in connection with the plans to establish a central bank in 1816. However the issue was an abject failure, and compulsory deposits had to be relied on instead. The lack of capital in the Norwegian market and uncertain monetary conditions were probably the main factors that held back the development of share issues. Most Norwegian companies were forced to raise capital from foreign investors, and it was only when monetary conditions improved in the 1870s that share issues started to become a feasible alternative.

The initiative to establish an exchange for stocks and shares in the Norwegian capital was taken in December 1880 by two bank owners, N. A. Andersen and S. C. Andersen, and the Oslo exchange started to list prices for stocks and shares from 1 March 1881.

In the early years, stocks and shares made up only a modest part of the overall activity of the Oslo exchange. Prices were fixed just once a month when the two brokers attended. (Daily prices were introduced in 1916 for shipping and whaling shares, followed by other types of shares in 1922). Moreover, the process was simply that of price fixing, and no trading took place through the exchange. The first list of prices published on 1 March 1881 showed 16 bonds and 23 shares. (Picture from Page 69 of the 150th year anniversary book).

Towards the end of the 1800s activity increased and prices were set twice a month. It soon became apparent that there was a need for rules and regulations to control price setting. A requirement for companies to publish accounts followed in due course, and the stock exchange committee thereby established the basic principles for stock exchange activities in the very early days of the Oslo exchange.

 

Centenary for the Oslo stock exchange in 1919

Of the first hundred years' history of the Oslo exchange, it was clearly the last 10 - 20 years that saw the first major steps in legislation and regulation of trading in stocks and shares. By that time the exchange in Oslo had developed an important national function as a stock exchange, as was demonstrated by the presence of King Haakon at the centenary celebrations on 25 April 1919.

The book produced at the time of the centenary celebrations provides the following details of lists of stocks and shares quoted at the time:

  • A I List (two sessions a week): 63 government, mortgage and municipality bonds, 64 banking shares, 23 insurance company shares and 21 industrials.
  • A II List (once a month): 97 municipality and corporate bonds, 20 railway, banking and insurance shares and 27 industrials.
  • B I List (daily sessions): 68 shipping shares.
  • B II List (two sessions a week): 69 shipping shares and 17 whaling shares.
  • B III List (one session a week): 49 shipping shares.

The Christiania Stock Exchange listed 578 stocks and shares in total in 1919.

 

Local exchanges

As the years went by local exchanges were established in Trondheim (1819), Bergen (1837), Kristiansand (1837), Drammen (1839), Stavanger (1878), Kristiansund (1894), Skien (1895), Ålesund (1905), Sandefjord (1912), Haugesund (1894) and Fredrikstad (1921). These local exchanges typically set foreign exchange rates and provided trading in commodities, but they also listed the shares of some local companies.

The period up to and during the First World War saw very extensive trading on local exchanges, but the sharp decline seen following the end of the war caused most of these markets to transfer their activities to the Oslo Stock Exchange over time. The last local exchange to continue trading was the Bergen Stock Exchange, which was not amalgamated into the Oslo Stock Exchange until as late as June 2000.

 

Important sources of information

The principle of equal access to information has always been an important principle for the Oslo stock exchange. Over the years a variety of different information channels have played a major role in the everyday decisions of investors, brokers, exchange employees and others.

The weather clock that can still be seen today in the original exchange trading room was an important source of information for brokers in the days of sailing ships. The instrument is connected to a weather vane on the roof, and shows the wind direction. A southerly wind blowing up the Christiania fjord meant good landings and so prices were marked down. A northerly wind made it more difficult for sailing ships to reach the harbour, and so prices were marked up. Brokers also used the wind direction to estimate the arrival time of expected cargoes, and although the instrument still works well it has probably outlived its use in terms of today's information needs!

In 1856 the stock exchange started to receive telegraphic exchange rates and commodity prices from abroad. Prices for major food products were receive from Hamburg twice a week, and although the newspapers were very interested in this information the stock exchange committee decided that the telegrams should be held back until the exchange opened so that the prices did not appear in the newspapers first. Even in those days the importance of being first out with the news did not escape the committee.

In 1867 the Christiania Stock Exchange became the first customer of the Norwegian Telegram Bureau. The following year the stock exchange arranged for telegrams with herring prices to be transmitted from the Ministry, and later the same year arrangements were made to receive telegraphic reports on the state of ice in the Christiania fjord.

The first telephone link in Norway was established between the exchanges in Drammen and Christiania. The market's appetite for information also justified financing a cable link between Norway and Great Britain, although the stock exchange had to finance this from its own resources since it could not persuade any other investors to back the project.

On 14 May 1925 the exchange started to contribute a report on stock exchange prices to national radio broadcasts. This was originally meant to be a 3-month trial period, but proved so popular that it was quickly made permanent. The Norwegian broadcasting organisation, NRK, installed a microphone in the stock exchange building, and prices were read by employees of the exchange. Over the course of the week the broadcast provided exchange rates, prices for around 30 commodities and prices for securities - 3 types of bonds, 4 bank shares, 12 industrial shares and 10 shipping shares as well as whaling shares and prices for "such companies as are currently listed".

‘News from the stock exchange’ is the longest running program item on Norwegian radio after the weather forecast. Broadcasts now take place at 16.20 every trading day, repeated at 17.05.

NRK started the first text-TV service in Norway in 1983. In 1986 NRK and the stock exchange collaborated to provide closing prices for shares and bonds on text-TV, and in due course this was expanded to show regularly updated prices (with a 15 minute delay). The Internet may now the most popular source of information for stock exchange prices, but many people still use text-TV as their prime source of information.

The arrival of computers meant that much of the information previously only available to brokers with a seat at the stock exchange could be made available to everyone. The stock exchange launched its first Internet pages at in 1995, although these did not provide price information. Regularly updated prices with a 15-minute delay were first made available on the Internet in December 2000.

In 2003 Oslo Børs (now also the official international name for the Oslo Stock Exchange) launched its own SMS number (2022) in order to create a dedicated SMS service for stock exchange information. This allows access to real-time share prices, index prices and other market information from a mobile telephone. The service has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible, and simply typing in a simple symbol or company/index name and sending this as a SMS message to 2022 gives access to information without having to remember lots of codes and prefixes. The SMS-service is only available in Norway and the information is only given in Norwegian language.

 

Major rebuilding

Work began on major additions to the stock exchange building in 1909 following an architectural competition in 1908. The stock exchange committee refused to award a first prize, but agreed to use designs by Carl Michalesen with some changes. The addition of two wings around an open courtyard was completed in 1911, and the stock exchange building was recognised and protected as a national monument in 1927.

 

Boom and bust

During and immediately after the First World War the stock market in Norway experienced a boom. Trading was swept up in a speculative boom just as the Oslo exchange celebrated its first centenary. New companies sprung up, everyone wanted to buy shares and prices climbed ever higher. The established broking firms could scarcely cope, and share trading spilt over to unexpected locations, not least the Grand Kafé. It was even rumoured that people were buying and selling shares in the pitch black of the Grand’s toilets after closing time.

This unhealthy situation could not last long, and the authorities introduced a law against over-trading. This was nevertheless not enough to save many investors from ruin, and the boom was soon over. The annual report of the stock exchange for 1921 provides an insight on how such a crisis can arise and its causes: "The general speculation fever may well have been the main cause, but expensive and unnecessary administration, over-willingness to pay inflated dividends rather than build reserves for the future, apathy and vagueness in almost all areas as well as ludicrous snobbery and hedonism may also be cited as contributory factors".

The years between the two world wars were something of a crisis period for the Norwegian economy. The Wall Street crash of 29 October 1929 was a major factor, and caused the worst global depression in modern history. The effects can clearly be seen in stock exchange statistics - turnover on the Oslo stock exchange fell from NOK 207 million in 1919 to NOK 4 million in 1932.

 

 

 

Companies and brokers

Increasing stock exchange activity encouraged more companies to apply for listing. However, the fundamental principle that the market should understand and have confidence in each listed company and that the company should be prepared to publish its accounts served to exclude many potential candidates from official listing. The companies turned down by the stock exchange committee often found their way onto the brokers' own lists, and from time to time there were more companies on the brokers' lists than on the official list.

There was a lively discussion in the inter-war years on trading foreign securities in the Oslo market. The last years of the First World War saw a number of Finnish issuers traded in Oslo, but these companies disappeared from the official list in 1923. It was not until 1950 that this topic was again addressed by the stock exchange authorities. Still, trading in foreign securities continued even in the absence of an official stock exchange listing.

Periods of high activity prompted an increase in the number of broking firms, and during the First World War there were some 1,304 such firms active in the Norwegian market. Firms could only join the Listing Committee, i.e. participate in stock exchange trading, with the approval of the stock exchange committee, but a number of un-authorised brokers found room "behind the counter" at the stock exchange and were able to follow trading without quoting prices themselves.

 

2nd World War

Following the occupation of Norway in 1940, the stock exchange in Oslo was subject to strict restrictions. The authorities sought to prevent the speculative boom seen during the First World War, and they also tried to prevent interference by the occupying forces.

In 1941 all wireless sets were seized, and the stock exchange was forced to communicate prices to brokers by telephone. The stock exchange committee was taken over by Nazi sympathisers from 1942. Securities trading was suspended on 8 May 1945, but resumed on 11 May 1945.

The chairman of the stock exchange committee before the war, shipowner Kaare Schøning, was re-appointed following the end of the war and the Nazi sympathisers who had been appointed during the occupation were sacked.

 

Post-war torpor

In the years following the Second World War, most of the exchange's activities were affected by the strict regulation of the economy made necessary by Norway’s economic condition. This was particularly true for commodities trading and securities trading. The low interest rate policy of the post-war years meant that bonds were relatively unattractive investments. However regulation of the economy gradually eased, and the Norwegian securities market has shown very healthy growth since the middle of the 1980s.

 

The Norwegian oil adventure

The oil fever that seized Norway following the discovery of commercially exploitable reserves in the Ekofisk field in 1969 also spilled over to the stock exchange.

The practice of ‘stagging’ - making multiple applications for share issues - first reared its head at this time. When popular share issues were over-subscribed the shares available were allotted on a proportional basis, and this made it attractive for investors to apply for shares in more than one name. Investors applied for shares issued by oil companies in the names of their aunts, uncles and friends - and even their cats and dogs.

Between 1974 and 1977 activity in the stock market fell again. There were many reasons for this, including the introduction of a turnover tax on shares, a sharp increase in taxation for oil companies, bad times for shipping companies and falling share prices in London and New York.

 

Internationalisation

Foreign capital has traditionally been very important for Norwegian business and industry. The industrialisation of Norway could hardly have taken place at the same speed and scale without investment from abroad. However foreign interest in Norwegian securities almost disappeared following the Second World War, and did not pick up again until the 1980s.

In 1981 the Oslo stock exchange judged it worthwhile to strengthen its international network by joining the international stock exchange association FIBV (Fédération Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs). Then in 1990 the Oslo stock exchange joined the Federation of European Stock Exchanges as part of the process of closer co-operation between EFTA countries and the EU. The Federation is an important forum for European stock exchanges to co-ordinate their work on the directives and regulations that affect securities markets in the EEA countries.

 

Growth and decline

Securities trading through the Oslo market grew strongly in the 1980s thanks to an upturn in the Norwegian economy and a number of political decisions that encouraged savers to buy securities. This period also saw many major financial transactions in the Oslo market place as Norwegian companies went through a hectic phase of mergers, acquisitions and restructuring.

October 1987 therefore came as a shock to almost everyone in the securities market. On 16 October 1987 - "black Friday" - share prices in New York fell sharply, setting the stage for Monday and Tuesday of the following week. The sharpest fall in share prices ever seen in the Oslo market for a single day followed on Tuesday 20 October, with a 19% fall in the all share index.

The international stock market crash coincided with an economic downturn in Norway. This meant that the crash had a greater and more sustained affect on the Oslo market than on most other stock exchanges. The introduction of stamp duty on share transactions from the start of 1988 served to exacerbate the downturn. (Stamp duty was abolished 12 months later). Moreover, the increasing globalisation of securities trading opened up opportunities to trade on other marketplaces, and London emerged as an important market for trading in Norwegian securities.

1989 saw renewed growth in share trading through the Oslo market, and in 1990 the all share index reached an all-time high of 666.35 - as it happened on the same day, 2 August, as Iraq invaded Kuwait. The all share index fell back by 46% over the remaining months of 1998. The next two years were a pessimistic period for the stock exchange, with the Norwegian banking crisis and international currency turbulence serving to reinforce the prevailing mood of pessimism.

The market did not recover its confidence until European currency policy changed and the Norwegian krone returned to free-float on 10 December 1992. The all share index (TOTX) finally recovered the all-time high of August 1990 on 27 January 1994, and went on to reach new record highs. TOTX has later been replaced by the benchmark index OSEBX.

 

Modernisation of the Oslo market

Norway has been at the forefront of developments in settlements and stock registration for securities trading. The Oslo stock exchange played a central role in 1985 in the creation of the Norwegian Central Securities Depository and the new regulations this involved.

1988 was an important year for the Norwegian securities market. The new Stock Exchange Act came into force, and confirmed that the Oslo Stock Exchange should operate the Oslo marketplace, carry out supervision functions and handle the distribution of prices and price sensitive information. The Act also gave the Oslo Stock Exchange authority to impose sanctions, including fines. An appeals body was also established in the form of the Stock Exchange Appeals Committee to hear appeals against rulings by the Stock Exchange Board. The members of the Appeals Committee were to be appointed by the Ministry of Finance.

1988 was also the year that the Oslo stock exchange launched its first electronic trading system. The old auction method of trading was replaced by a system that allowed continuous trading in all listed securities throughout the trading day. This effectively brought the Oslo market into the modern trading world, and opened up opportunities for new financial products. The trading system also paved the way for more decentralised trading, allowing brokers to work from terminals linked to the stock exchange from their own offices rather than having to trade in person at the stock exchange building. Trading in bonds moved onto the electronic trading system in October 1989, and trading in derivatives has used an electronic trading system ever since it was first introduced.

The launch of the electronic trading system in 1988 created the need for a computer suite in the stock exchange building, and this could only be accommodated by making use of the internal courtyard. The courtyard was brought into the building by installing a glass roof - but covering over the courtyard was scarcely a new idea. The designs produced in 1908 by Carl Michalesen included two alternatives for putting a glass roof over the courtyard. The 1988 design was the work of the Hille & Melbye A/S architectural practice working in close collaboration with the Director of National Monuments, and represents a stylistic cohesion with the building as a whole.

In anticipation of the new millennium Oslo launched an even more revolutionary electronic trading system for shares known as ASTS, which came into use on 5 February 1999. The new system provided automatic matching of orders in the electronic order book, and trading in bonds moved on to the same system in September of the same year. The new trading system demonstrated impressive reliability in its first 12 months, achieving 99.98% availability. Moreover the system was decentralised, and removed the need for brokers to sit in the stock exchange building. This also allowed the Oslo stock exchange to offer remote membership for foreign firms to participate in trading in the Oslo market.

The new trading system also made it possible to trade over the Internet. The start of the new millennium saw a handful of investment firms launch services for their customers to trade from their own PCs, routing orders directly through their broker and into the Oslo stock exchange trading system. This proved very popular, and led to almost explosive growth in the number of transactions carried out.

In the years following the launch of the ASTS trading system, Oslo Børs has changed its trading systems twice. These changes reflected the wish to use the same trading systems as other larger markets in order to make it easier for international broking firms to trade directly on the Oslo Børs marketplaces. The first change involved the introduction of the same trading system as the other Nordic exchanges (Saxess for the equities and fixed income markets and Click for derivatives), and these systems were subsequently replaced by the London Stock Exchange trading systems (SOLA® for derivatives and TradElect for the equities and fixed income markets). Technology has been the most important driver for the development of securities markets since the millennium shift. The technology supporting securities trading has developed very quickly over these years, responding not least to market demands for faster and more powerful trading systems. In parallel with these developments, sophisticated solutions have been developed for automated trading systems. TradElect has now been replaced by the modern and state of the art system Millennium Exchange, owned by the London Stock Exchange Group.

In 2010, central counterparty (CCP) clearing was introduced for equities, equity certificates and ETFs traded on the Oslo Børs marketplaces. Central clearing involves a clearing house, such as SIX (owner by the former Oslo Clearing), entering into a transaction as the counterparty for both the original purchaser and the original seller from such time as the order is matched by the exchange's trading system.
The introduction of CCP clearing reduces the risk exposure of the market players (investment firms and banks) that participate in the centralised securities clearing process. In addition, CCP clearing reduces the overall level of transaction costs incurred by investment firms since the number of settlement transactions carried out is reduced by what is known as transaction netting, which means that only net positions are submitted for settlement.

CCP clearing has become the industry standard in the world's securities markets. By implementing CCP clearing, the Norwegian securities market has retained its competitiveness in relation to similar markets around the world.

 

Market data

The stockbroking firm Carl Kierulf & Co A/S first published its ‘Kierulfs Håndbok’ in 1900. The handbook brought together for the first time properly collated and standardised information on Norwegian listed companies and securities. In the preface to the book, Carl Kierulf explained:

“The significance of trading in government, mortgage association and municipality bonds as well as company shares has become all the more obvious. The difficulties experienced in gaining ready access to reliable information about the various issuers have given me the idea of collating information on the securities included in the brokers’ lists and publishing this in the form of a handbook.”

Kierulfs Håndbok was soon accepted as an indispensable source of information, and became known at the time as the encyclopaedia of Norwegian business. The aim was to provide impartial and reliable factual information on Norwegian shares and bonds as a basis for its readers’ investment decisions. The work involved in producing this handbook has clear parallels with the collation and the sale of market data carried out by OBI.

Access to reliable market data has become ever more important as the years have progressed. The business first launched by Kierulf continued to expand over the years, and in 1987 these activities transferred to the company Custos Finansanalyse, which was in turn acquired by Oslo Børs with effect from 1988. As part of the acquisition, the company changed its name to Oslo Børs Informasjon (OBI). OBI was eventually merged into Oslo Børs. The activities have been refocused with a greater emphasis on selling price data and other market information.

A technologically advanced data feed system is now used to distribute the data generated by the Oslo Børs marketplaces to users. The business of selling market data has become one of the most important sources of revenue for Oslo Børs.

 

A new era

The launch of the ASTS trading system in February 1999 represented the end of an era for the Oslo stock exchange. Prior to the launch of the new trading system brokers had to have a "seat" at the Oslo stock exchange in order to trade. The launch of the new system moved the brokers out of the stock exchange, but the real revolution was that trading could now take place from anywhere in the world.

This prompted the first services for Internet trading in Norwegian shares, and by the start of 2000 Internet trading was offered by five investment firms. This also paved the way for a new generation of Internet brokers, with Netfonds and Stocknet being the first of this breed in the Oslo market. Now anyone could sit at home and place orders directly from his or her PC with a broker, who would then route the order directly into the stock exchange trading system. By 2001 the number of investment firms offering this service had increased to 14.

 

The dot.com phenomenon

In autumn 1998 oil prices fell sharply, and oil traded at under USD 10 per barrel for some time. The Oslo market has always been seen as an oil-related market, and the Oslo all share index fell by around 50% between April and October 1998. However stock markets are nothing if not volatile, as the following year demonstrated. Internet technology appeared to offer explosive growth, and in 1999 and the early part of 2000 prices rocketed skywards for Internet shares and any share with even a tenuous link to this new technology.

The prices achieved ignored the fact that very many of these companies were burdened by heavy borrowings and offered no prospect of profits for many years. Had traditional economic theories been proved wrong? Many commentators actually thought this was the case, and at the most optimistic times the market 'priced' IT consultants at NOK 20 million each while investors ignored traditional theories and forgot such fundamental messages as "cash is king". Confidence in the future seemed unshakeable, and the Internet sector created a bonanza the like of which has not been seen in Norway since the days of pioneering railway and whaling stocks.

But what goes up must come down, and the dot.com bubble burst some months into 2000. Suddenly markets went back to believing that companies should be priced on the basis of their earnings, and global equity markets embarked on a long-lasting downturn, fuelled by the sudden onset of recession in the USA following the boom times of the 1990s. By February 2003 the Oslo market was back to its 1996 price level, turnover had shrunk and the general view of shares as an investment alternative had suffered a major setback. The situation was quite different just three years earlier, with enormous interest in buying shares and ever-increasing turnover figures.

 

Strategic alliances

In pace with accelerating internationalisation and strong growth in cross-border securities trading, Oslo Børs recognised a growing need to expand the distribution of securities listed on the Oslo market. Oslo Børs also wanted to make it easier for more participants to trade directly on the Oslo market, and the solution to this was to enter into partnerships with other exchanges, principally in order to use the same trading system. By using the same technology as larger marketplaces, Oslo Børs made it easier for international investment firms to trade directly on the Oslo market.

Spring 2002 saw Oslo Børs move onto the SAXESS trading system developed by OM Technology of Sweden. The reason for this was that Oslo Børs had entered into a strategic alliance with the other Nordic stock exchanges, known as NOREX. The exchanges signed a letter of intent in November 1999. The NOREX exchanges remained independent entities, but the alliance created a joint Nordic marketplace with a common trading platform and harmonised regulations. Joining the NOREX alliance quickly brought a number of new international investment firms as members of Oslo Børs. There was clearly strong interest in Nordic shares. Through the alliance, the four Nordic countries offered a range of attractive investment opportunities across a broad range of industries and sectors. The years that followed saw some changes in the basis for the alliance, including the steps taken by the Swedish OMX exchange to take over some of the other Nordic and Baltic exchanges. Eventually, Oslo Børs was the only independent exchange in the alliance since all the other Nordic exchanges were owned by Nasdaq OMX.

In 2009, Oslo Børs entered into a strategic partnership with the London Stock Exchange Group, and the NOREX alliance came to an end. The partnership with the London Stock Exchange includes the bond and derivative markets as well as the equities market. The partnership is intended to deliver improved efficiency and greater liquidity for the customers of both exchanges. As part of the agreement, the London Stock Exchange Group provides trading systems for all the securities marketplaces operated by Oslo Børs, involving the Millennium Exchange system for equities and bond markets and the SOLA® system, under licence from the Canadian TMX Group, for derivatives trading. Oslo Børs migrated onto the London systems over the course of 2009 and 2010.

Oslo Børs has achieved very successful results from its policy of strategic alliances. A significant number of investment firms have become members of Oslo Børs as a result of strategic alliances with other exchanges, and this has created greater access to risk capital for the Norwegian securities market. Trading volumes on the marketplaces operated by Oslo Børs have grown very considerably since 2002.

 

A new look for Oslo Børs

Employee numbers at Oslo Børs passed the 100 mark in 2000. The stock exchange building, with its historic but not necessarily practical interior, had been too small for several years. Oslo Børs faced the choice of either moving to new and larger premises or refurbishing the interior of its historic building on Tollbugata.

It came as a great relief for many when Oslo Børs decided in Autumn 2001 to stay at its Tollbugata 2 address and carry out a comprehensive renovation of its historic building. After a year of hammering, drilling and deafening noise, with employees becoming very used to moving their workstations from office to office to keep out of the builders’ way, Oslo Børs was ready to unveil its new 'open' look in October 2002. The atrium gained a new balcony in each corner, and the side wings and rear of the building emerged as a new open plan spaces. The new interior was designed by Niels Torp, who proved a worthy successor to Christian Grosch, the original architect of the Stock exchange.

Sven Arild Andersen, the CEO of Oslo Børs, was quick to appreciate the big advantage of the new open office landscape. "Now I can stand in the atrium and see 70% of my employees" said Mr Andersen, who played an important role in persuading the board of Oslo Børs to spend NOK 40 million on the renovation. However this money will be quickly recovered, not least by avoiding the rental costs of the space that had been rented elsewhere to accommodate a significant number of the Oslo Børs employees.

Oslo Børs has emerged as a state-of-the-art marketplace, not only in technical terms but also in its physical and functional appearance.

 

Privatisation of Oslo Børs

In May 2001 Oslo Børs, which by this time had been in existence for 182 years, changed its status from being a self-financing foundation to become a limited company, and the company created was then privatised. The new structure involved Oslo Børs Holding ASA as a holding company with the sole business objective of owning 100% of the share capital of Oslo Børs ASA, which is the company that operates the marketplaces. Oslo Børs Holding ASA was subsequently included on the OTC list operated by the Norwegian Securities Dealers Association, but as a matter of policy the company elected from the time it was established to operate as though it had a full stock exchange listing.'

Oslo Børs Holding ASA merged with VPS Holding ASA in 2007 to create Oslo Børs VPS Holding ASA. The group's shareholders are principally Norwegian and international institutional investors, investment firms and investment banks, as well as a handful of Norwegian listed companies, pension funds and private companies and individuals. Shareholding is subject to limitations imposed by legislation. No shareholder has a dominating position in the Company as of February 2016. DNB is the largest shareholder, holding approx. 19.8% of the outstanding shares.

 

 

Contact us

Oslo Børs

  • Tollbugata 2
  • Box 460 Sentrum, 0105 Oslo
  • +47 22 34 17 00