The AMF is the independent public agency responsible for regulating and overseeing financial markets in France.
Established by the Financial Security Act of 1 August 2003, it was formed from the merger of three authorities: the Commission des operations de bourse (COB), the Conseil des marchés financiers (CMF) and the Conseil de discipline de la gestion financière (CDGF).
Under its statutory duties, the AMF safeguards investments in financial instruments and in all other savings and investment vehicles, ensures that investors receive material information, and maintains orderly financial markets.
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The AMF is bound by professional secrecy and the principle of presumption of innocence. It must therefore remain silent about ongoing inspections and investigations so that it can proceed with its enquiries without casting suspicion – which may prove unwarranted – on any natural or legal person.
If the findings reveal possible infringements, the AMF may initiate disciplinary proceedings and/or refer the matter to the courts if criminal offences are potentially involved. If the proceedings opened by the AMF result in penalties, the related decision is published and posted online on the AMF's website at www.amf-france.org> Sanctions (in French only).
The AMF can order the company to publish a corrective statement and can halt trading in the company's stock in the meantime. In some cases, it may also launch an investigation that can lead to sanction proceedings.
Once it has informed the issuer, the market operator may suspend trading in a security. It must also inform the AMF Chairman about the trading halt. This type of suspension is intended to prevent or halt disorderly market conditions.
The issuer (the company itself)
The issuer can also ask the market operator to halt trading in its securities pending publication of a news release to inform the public about an event that might materially affect the stock price, such as a corporate action or restructuring.
The Chairman of the AMF
The AMF Chairman may ask the market operator to halt trading under the powers assigned to the AMF, for example when a draft bid is filed or if the company is unable to provide proper disclosures to the public.
The decision to halt trading is always taken by Euronext Paris.
Trading halts are published in a Euronext Paris market notice that describes the origin of and reasons for the halt and the conditions in which trading may resume. Failing this, it stipulates that trading has been suspended until further notice. There is no maximum time limit for trading halts.
Except where otherwise provided, when trading in a security is suspended, unexecuted orders involving that security are eliminated. Anyone who has placed an order is therefore encouraged to check whether that order has been deleted from the order book following the trading halt.
AMF Instruction 2005-01 on authorisation procedures and periodic disclosure requirements for foreign UCITS marketed in France can be downloaded from the AMF's website. Go to www.amf-france.org and look under Texts > Access by category of text > AMF Instructions.
The procedure governing notification of applications for authorisation to market a European UCITS in France is posted on the AMF's website. Go to www.amf-france.org and look under Services Providers area > Forms > Foreign UCITS.
Before approving a document, the AMF makes sure that the information it contains is comprehensive, understandable and consistent. An approval does not mean that the AMF is endorsing the investment or assessing the situation of the issuer.
The AMF makes sure that the market receives complete, high-calibre information.
Since September 2006, to prevent the market from being disrupted by rumours of takeover bids, the AMF has had the power to ask any entity that it has reason to think is preparing a tender offer to publicly state its intentions and, where applicable, file a draft bid.
- If the entity in question says that it does plan to file a bid, the AMF sets a timetable for informing the public and filing the bid.
- If the entity in question does not comply with the arrangements put in place by the AMF or says it does not want to make a bid, then that entity may not, unless circumstances change, file a draft bid for the securities of the target company for six months.