Procedures for Handling Certain Designated Trades as Principal

Type: Rules Notice> Guidance Note
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Legal and Compliance


Felix Mazer
Policy Counsel

Executive Summary

This Rules Notice provides guidance on the procedures for the execution by a Participant as principal of certain pre-arranged trades or intentional crosses that qualify as a “designated trade”1 under the Universal Market Integrity Rules (“UMIR”) and which involve a distribution to clients of a significant block of stock of a listed security.

  • 1 A “designated trade” is defined as an intentional cross or pre-arranged trade of a security made at a price that:
    (a) would not be less than the lesser of: • 95% of the best bid price, and 1 • 10 trading increments less than the best bid price; and
    (b) would not be more than the greater of: • 105% of the best ask price, and • 10 trading increments more than the best ask price.
    The definition does not impose any minimum volume or value requirements in order for an intentional cross of pre-arranged trade to qualify as a “designated trade”.


Effective May 16, 2008, UMIR was amended to provide a mechanism to cap the obligation of a Participant, when acting as principal or agent, to fill better-priced orders in the case of designated trades2 to those orders included in the “disclosed volume”.3 To ensure that the better-priced orders included in the disclosed value were protected, the amendments provided for the introduction of a “bypass order”4 marker that would be attached to orders entered to meet best price obligations.  The use of the bypass order marker would ensure that the order would not interact with hidden orders, undisclosed portions of iceberg orders or Special Terms Order or other specialty orders.5  In order to provide marketplaces, Participants and service providers with time to amend their systems to accommodate the bypass order, implementation of this portion of the amendments was deferred until June 1, 2009.6

These amendments to UMIR eliminated the “uncertainties” surrounding the ability of a Participant to “move the market” amidst the presence of orders with partially or fully undisclosed volume.  On July 18, 2008, the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”) repealed its wide distribution rules7 that permitted a dealer to “take-on” a principal trade “off-marketplace” in connection with “unwinding” trades to at least 25 separate client accounts.  The wide distribution rules capped the amount of “interference” that the execution of the unwinding trades might encounter from “iceberg orders” and possibly certain Special Terms Orders and other “specialty” orders.  The TSX noted that “…the wide distribution rules are no longer necessary as a result of the UMIR Amendments because the combination of bypass orders and designated trades essentially duplicates the functionality currently provided through the TSX wide distribution mechanism.”8

Under the wide distribution rules of the TSX, a dealer could make, subject to specific conditions, a pre-arranged trade9 of a significant block of stock whereby the Participant would execute the “take-on” principal trade “off-marketplace” with the understanding that the Participant would immediately “distribute” the block of stock to its clients by means of an “on-marketplace” principal-client trade (with specific client allocations conducted by journal entry).  While the amendments to UMIR made various aspects of the wide distribution rules of the TSX redundant (particularly those provisions that capped “interference” from certain types of orders) other aspects, namely the provisions that provided for the principal take-on trade to occur “off-marketplace” and the mechanism for the facilitation of “distribution” of large blocks of stock, were not addressed.  As such, the following guidance sets out the expectations of IIROC with respect to the procedures for the execution of certain designated trades that involve a Participant acting as principal.  It is important to note that while the wide distribution rules were applicable to the TSX, the procedures described in this Guidance Note are applicable for the conduct of an unwinding trade on any Canadian marketplace.

Questions and Answers

The following are specific questions respecting the procedures for the execution of certain designated trades by a Participant and the response of IIROC to each question:

  1. With the elimination of the wide distribution rules of the TSX, is a Participant still able to undertake, as principal, the “distribution” to its clients of a significant block of a listed security?
  • Yes.  In certain circumstances, a Participant may agree to take on a significant block of stock from a shareholder of a listed issuer at a discount to the prevailing market price with the intention of immediately attempting to sell the stock to its clients. 

The wide distribution procedures of the TSX were designed to facilitate the sale of a large block of stock by a Participant to its clients in an efficient manner.10  IIROC is of the view that the efficient distribution of large blocks of stock continues to be a laudable goal.  As such, IIROC may provide an exemption from Rule 6.4 of UMIR to allow a Participant to complete a principal take-on trade “off-marketplace” if the trade is made in furtherance of a “distribution” to clients.  Unlike the wide distribution rules of the TSX, IIROC does not require a minimum volume or value for a transaction to qualify for an “off-marketplace” exemption in accordance with Rule 6.4 of UMIR.  In the view of IIROC, an “off-marketplace” exemption is warranted if the Participant, acting as principal, assumes the “economic risk” of the transaction with the “intent to distribute” the stock to its clients.

Under the wide distribution rules of the TSX, the practice developed that wide distributions were generally undertaken at the close or the opening of trading.  The introduction of the amendments to UMIR regarding “designated trades” permits these types of distributions to be undertaken at any time during the trading day on any marketplace.

  1. What steps must a Participant take to facilitate an “off-marketplace” take-on trade in a listed security in furtherance of a “distribution” to clients?

Before a Participant agrees to the “take-on” trade, the Participant must apply to IIROC in writing for an exemption under Rule 6.4(b) of UMIR.11  In the normal course, IIROC will provide an exemption to allow the principal “take-on” leg of the “distribution” to be executed “off-marketplace” if:

  • the size of the “take-on” trade is such that the trade could not be completed on a marketplace without being disruptive of the market;
  • the price of the “take-on” trade varies from the intended price of the “distribution” (or the highest price in a range of possible distribution prices if the price of the distribution has not been finally determined) by an amount that is not more than the usual agency commission that would be charged by that Participant to that client for an order of the same size;12
  • the Participant intends to “distribute” the block of shares to its clients and does not already hold client orders for a significant proportion of the block; and
  • the Participant agrees that to the extent that the distribution price is more than the greater of 5% or 10 trading increments lower than the prevailing market price at the time the distribution trades are to be executed, the Participant will move the market in accordance with the requirements set out in Part 2 of Policy 2.1 of UMIR to within 5% or 10 trading increments of the distribution price before executing the designated trade.

Any exemption granted by IIROC applies only to the transaction described in the application for exemption.

  1. Are there any circumstances under which IIROC would not provide an “off-marketplace” exemption to facilitate a “distribution” of a block of securities?

Yes.  IIROC generally will not grant an “off-marketplace” exemption if, at the time of the proposed take-on trade, the Participant already holds client orders for a significant proportion13 of the block. In these circumstances, IIROC believes that it is more appropriate for the transaction to be completed “on-marketplace” with the Participant acting as agent for both vendor and purchasers.  However, it is acceptable for a Participant to have received “indications of interest” from clients to participate in the distribution. 

  1. How is a Participant expected to execute the “unwinding” trade?

After the negotiation of the take-on trade, the Participant would market the “distribution” of the block to its clients.  The unwinding trade may be executed concurrent with or following the completion of the take-on trade.  Unless IIROC otherwise agrees, IIROC expects the unwinding trade to be executed on a marketplace later that trading day.  IIROC will permit the unwinding trades to be recorded on a marketplace in a single principal-client trade for the entire block of stock at the distribution price.  The single trade will be permitted even in circumstances where the Participant has not received client orders for the full amount of the block.  After the unwinding trade has been “printed”, the Participant may allocate the securities to clients by means of journal entry for the balance of that trading day.14

  1. What is a Participant expected to do if not all of the unwinding trade is allocated to clients by the end of the trading day?

If a Participant has not allocated all the securities that were subject of the unwinding trade to clients by the end of the trading day, IIROC expects that the Participant will take the unallocated securities into its inventory account and file with IIROC a “Regulatory Marker Correction Form” setting out, among other things, the number of securities marked as a trade to a client which have been taken into inventory.15 To the extent that a Participant has taken unallocated securities into inventory, any future sales of the securities must be completed “on-marketplace” as a principal trade that is subject to all of the provisions of UMIR, including Rule 5.2 (best price).

  1. Is a Participant required to submit a report to IIROC once the distribution has been completed?

Yes.  After the “unwinding” trade has been fully allocated to clients or taken into inventory by the Participant, the Participant must submit written confirmation to IIROC (at the e-mail address provided in the confirmation of the grant of the exemption) setting out:

  • the number of client accounts that received an allocation in the distribution;
  • the largest percentage allocation to a single account; and
  • the number of client accounts that were solicited to purchase securities covered by the unwinding trade.
  1. Is the unwinding trade subject to the “best price” obligation under Rule 5.2 of UMIR?

Yes.  The execution of the unwinding trade is subject to the Participant making reasonable efforts to trade with better-priced orders disclosed in a consolidated market display.  In order to limit interference from better-priced orders not included in the “disclosed volume” on the marketplace on which the unwinding trade is to be executed, the Participant would mark the unwinding trade with the “bypass order” marker.  However, if the Participant had not “fully allocated” the unwinding trade at the time of its execution, the Participant may wish to interact with the undisclosed volume and Special Terms Orders in order to reduce the amount of stock that the Participant might potentially have to take into inventory and, in these circumstances, the Participant may decide not to mark the unwinding trade as a “bypass order”.

  1. Is a Participant required to mark any orders entered on other marketplaces for “displacement” purposes as “bypass”?

No, but IIROC recommends the use of the bypass marker on orders sent to displace better-priced orders on other protected marketplaces to avoid interference from “undisclosed” liquidity.  For example, if a Participant sends an order to a protected marketplace16 to trade with the “disclosed volume” on that marketplace in compliance with the “best price” obligation under Rule 5.2 of UMIR and does not mark the order “bypass”, the Participant takes on the risk that the order will interact with the undisclosed volume, including hidden orders and the undisclosed portion of iceberg orders and Special Terms Orders.  To the extent that not all of the orders included in the “disclosed volume” are filled, the Participant continues to have a displacement obligation.  For greater certainty, notwithstanding that a Participant enters an order on a particular protected marketplace that is of a sufficient volume and is at price that will fill the disclosed volume, to the extent that the order is not marked “bypass” and the order encounters “interference” from undisclosed orders on the marketplace, the Participant will not have met its obligations under Rule 5.2.  


  • 2For details of the various amendments to UMIR, see Market Integrity Notice 2008-008 – Amendment ApprovalProvisions Respecting “Off-Marketplace” Trades (May 16, 2008).
  • 3The term “disclosed volume” is defined as including the volume of orders on a protected marketplace at a price better than the price of the intended trade but excludes:
    • the undisclosed portion of any iceberg order; • a Basis Order; • a Call Market Order; • a Market-on-Close Order; • an Opening Order; • a Special Terms Order; or • a Volume-Weighted Average Price Order.
  • 4Bypass Order means an order that is:
    • part of a designated trade; or
    • to satisfy an obligation to fill an order imposed on a Participant or Access Person by any Rule or Policy
    and that is entered on a protected marketplace to execute as against the disclosed volume on that marketplace prior to the execution or cancellation of the balance of the order.
  • 5UMIR defines a number of “specialty” types of orders such as: a Basis Order; a Call Market Order; a Market-on-Close Order; an Opening Order; a Special Terms Order; or a Volume-Weight Average Price Order.
  • 6IIROC Notice 09-0034, Rules Notice – Guidance Note – UMIR – Implementation Date for the Marking of Bypass Orders (February 3, 2009).
  • 7 TSX Rule Book, Rule 4-103 – Wide Distributions.
  • 8TMX Group Notice to Participating Organizations and Members 2008-030 (July 18, 2008).
  • 9A “pre-arranged trade” is defined as a trade for which the terms of the trade were agreed upon prior to the entry of either the order to purchase or  to sell on a marketplace by the persons entering the orders or by the persons on whose behalf the orders are entered.
  • 10Prior to their repeal, the wide distribution rules of the TSX required that a transaction meet several additional conditions, including:
    • timely public announcement of the wide distribution;
    • a minimum transaction value of at least $25,000,000;
    • distribution to 25 or more clients, with no one client’s allocation being more than 50% of the total allocation; and
    • completion of the wide distribution by the end of the fourth trading session following the announcement of the wide distribution.
  • 11For a general description of the procedures to be followed and the information to be provided in order to obtain an exemption pursuant to Rule 6.4(b), see Market Integrity Notice 2005-020 – Guidance – Obtaining a Trading Exemption or Rule Interpretation (June 13, 2005).  In addition to the information set out in Market Integrity Notice 2005-020, a Participant seeking an exemption for an “off-marketplace” trade related to a “distribution”, should submit to IIROC the following information:
    • the price at which the “take-on” trade will be executed (or the price range if the take-on price has not been determined);
    • the intended price of the “distribution” (or the highest price in a range of possible distribution prices if the price of the distribution has not been c) determined);
    a description of the “marketing efforts” that the Participant has undertaken;
    the number of client accounts that have been solicited or which the Participant intends to solicit to purchase the securities;
    • the number and volume of solicited client orders the Participant holds at • the time of the proposed “take-on” trade; and
    • the name of the counterparty to the “take-on” trade.
    Counsel in Market Regulation Policy may be contacted by telephone or in writing as follows:
    • Tim Ryan – 416-646-7266 or by email at [email protected]; or
    • Felix Mazer – 416—646-7280 or by email at [email protected].
  • 12In essence, this condition ensures that the request for an exemption to execute the trade on a marketplace is not an attempt to avoid the application of Rule 7.5 of UMIR dealing with recorded prices.
  • 13The determination of what constitutes a “significant proportion” is a fact-specific analysis that takes into account various factors, including, but not limited to, the liquidity profile of the security and recent trading patterns in the security.  While IIROC retains sole discretion in determining what constitutes a “significant proportion” for the purposes of Rule 6.4(b), IIROC will generally consider client orders that account for more than 25% of the volume of the distribution to be a “significant proportion”.
  • 14For this purpose, IIROC considers the end of the “trading day” to be the close of trading on the last of the marketplaces on which the security trades and which provides pre-trade transparency.  In the context of designated trade distribution to clients, IIROC will also take into account the liquidity and volatility profile of the particular securities when determining whether the “take-on” price satisfies this requirement.
  • 15Reference should be made to IIROC Rules Notice 08-0033 – Guidance Note – New Procedures For Order Marker Corrections (July 15, 2008) for guidance on the procedures for reporting order marker corrections and the use of the web-based “Regulatory Marker Correction Form” that is available on the IIROC website at  Permitting the unwinding trade to be marked “principal-client” combined with the submission of a Regulatory Marker Correction Form via a secure web-based system to the extent that the unwinding trade has not been fully allocated to clients, prevents information leakage on how much of the block of securities was taken into inventory by the Participant.
  • 16Presently, the TSX, TSX Venture Exchange, CNSX, Pure, Alpha, Chi-X and Omega are considered to be a “protected marketplace”.  Reference is made to the definition of a “protected marketplace” in Rule 1.1 of UMIR.

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