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Feb 28, 2020

'It starts with regret': TMX says it needs to regain trust after outage

Continually stress-testing system to prevent another outage: TMX Group Interim CEO

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The interim head of TMX Group Ltd. said the company needs to start rebuilding investors’ faith in its trading platforms.

“It starts with regret,” said John McKenzie, interim TMX chief executive officer, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Friday. McKenzie spoke a day after a technical outage took the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX Venture and Alpha out of commission for over two hours

“We’re actually quite sorry that we made that challenging for our clients to execute yesterday because that’s our number one objective. We start today with rebuilding trust and credibility, and we’ll do that in the way we operate the market every single day. But that starts right now.”

The TSX Alpha was halted at 1:51 p.m. ET on Thursday, while the TSX and Venture exchanges were halted three minutes later. The outage continued throughout the rest of the trading day.

“The simplest way to describe it is; if you think about the activity in the marketplace that we saw yesterday leading to almost-unprecedented levels of order entry coming into our system,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said the TMX system saw approximately 190 million buy, sell, and cancel orders on Thursday, compared to an average daily total of 90 million.

“That led to some challenges in the system that we are still working through, in terms of diagnosing what they mean for the long-term, but (we) went straight to the fix last night so we could make sure we were steady, reliable and up to open the market this morning, and you could have confidence in what we’re doing today.”

The S&P/TSX composite index opened sharply lower, down 452.20 points, or 2.70 percent, at 16,265.31 at 9:35 a.m. Friday morning.     

McKenzie is the acting CEO of the TMX Group, having taken over the mantle from Lou Eccleston in January. He said that while the decision about whether “interim” is removed from his title rests with TMX’s board of directors, he remains focused on the here and now.

“For me right now, the focus is on execution,” McKenzie said. “It’s not focused on the next role, it’s a focus on executing the strategy and making sure we’re delivering for clients through the interim period.”

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