King Country Energy, the biggest electricity retailer in the region, is pushing ahead with plans to move its listing to the NZX from the Unlisted platform, saying new rules could force the Unlisted market to close.

Shareholders in the Taumarunui-based energy company agreed unanimously on Thursday to take steps to prepare for an NZX listing, including the adoption of a new constitution, the company said.

It told shareholders the introduction of the Financial Markets Conduct Act in December could close the Unlisted market.

Unlisted is petitioning Commerce Minister Paul Goldsmith for exemption from a rule change requiring it to be licensed by the Financial Markets Authority, saying the cost would be prohibitive for its service for smaller companies.

Advertisement

Under the new rules, Unlisted has to either apply for a licence from the FMA, seek an exemption, or shut down. Unlisted currently requires minimal disclosure, keeping costs low for the 17 securities that trade on its platform.

NZX said Unlisted operated without disclosure requirements and was not subject to insider trading or market manipulation restrictions, and an exemption could undermine confidence in New Zealand financial markets.

NZX did gain an exemption for its NXT market aimed at smaller companies, allowing less onerous disclosure obligations.

Unlisted rejects the NZX claims, saying it provided an important lower-cost service for small- and medium-sized issuers that otherwise wouldn't be available.