The ASX Group's origins as a national exchange go back to 1987. The Australian Stock Exchange Limited was formed in 1987 after the Australian Parliament drafted legislation that enabled the amalgamation of six independent state-based stock exchanges. Each of those exchanges brought with it a history of share trading dating back to the 19th century.
In 2006 The Australian Stock Exchange merged with the Sydney Futures Exchange and originally operated under the name Australian Securities Exchange.
Later, however, ASX launched a new group structure to better position it in the contemporary financial market environment. From 1 August 2010 the Australian Securities Exchange has been known as the ASX Group.
The ASX Group timeline
Ten years after the official advent of the Gold Rush, Australia’s first stock exchange was formed in Melbourne. In the 1850's Victoria was Australia’s gold mining centre, its population increasing from 80,000 in 1851 to 540,000 in 1861.
Thirty years after it lit the first gas street light in Sydney, AGL took its place in history again, becoming the second company to list on the Sydney Stock Exchange.
Two years after the Broken Hill Mining Company (private company) was established by a syndicate of seven men from the Mt Gipps sheep station, the company was incorporated to become The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (‘BHP’). In 1885, Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) listed on ASX.
The Australian Associated Stock Exchanges (AASE) was established in 1937. Since 1903 the state stock exchanges had met on an informal basis, but in 1936 Sydney took the lead in formalising the association. Initially this involved the Exchanges in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Sydney. Melbourne and Perth joined soon after. Through the AASE the Exchanges gradually brought in common listing requirements for companies and uniform brokerage and other rules for stockbroking firms. They also set the ground rules for commissions and the flotation of government and semi-government loan raisings.
Publication of the first share price index.
Off the back of the success of the newly formed Westfield Investments venture in Blacktown in Sydney’s western suburbs, it was decided that four of Westfield’s projects would be put into a public company. These included a recently acquired site at Hornsby, on the northern outskirts of Sydney, a shopping centre under construction at Sutherland, and residential developments at Pennant Hills and St Ives. On the strength of these projects, Westfield Development Corporation Ltd floated in September 1960.
Sydney Futures Exchange began trading as Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange (SGWFE). Its original goal was to provide Australian wool traders with hedging facilities in their own country. SGWFE offered a single contract of greasy wool that by the end of the year had traded 19,042 lots.
Rio Tinto listed on the ASX, resulting in the creation of the (then called) Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation (RTZ). The company was the result of a merger between British-owned The Rio Tinto Company and The Consolidated Zinc Corporation, an Australian company.
By the mid 1960s the SGWFE had become the world’s leading futures market.
This year heralded the introduction of a national listing for all securities.
Jean Gordon became the first female member of the Sydney Stock Exchange, initially as a partner of John Sweeney & Co, then as an individual member.
Gold futures began trading for the first time on the Sydney Futures Exchange.
In another first for the SFE, it became the first exchange outside the US to list a financial futures contract (90-Day Bank Bill).
Forty-five years after the publication of the first share price index, share price index futures began trading on the SFE.
The Australian Stock Exchange Limited (ASX) was formed on 1 April 1987, through incorporation under legislation of the Australian Parliament. The formation of this national stock exchange involved the amalgamation of the six independent stock exchanges that had operated in the states' capital cities.
Launch of the Stock Exchange Automated Trading System (SEATS). It was a far cry from the original system which dated back over 100 years. During that time there had been three different forms of trading on the Australian stock exchanges. The earliest was the auction-based call system, which saw a stock exchange employee (the Caller) call the name of each listed security in turn while Members bid, offered, sold or bought the stock at each call. This system proved inadequate to handle the increased volume of trading during the mining booms. It was replaced by the 'post' system in the early 1960s, which involved stocks being quoted on ‘posts’ or ‘boards’. ‘Chalkies’ were employed by the Stock Exchange and it was their function to record in chalk the bids and offers of the operators (employees of stockbrokers) and the sales made. This system stayed in place until 1987.
In another first for SFE, its position as market innovator was reinforced when it became the first foreign exchange to market its futures and options products in the US.
SFE launches SYCOM – with this launch the SFE becomes the first futures exchange in the world to extend its normal floor trading with the introduction of an after-hours electronic trading platform.
Three years after the initial launch of SEATS, ASX trading floors closed and all stocks were converted to SEATS, forever ending the reign of the ‘chalkies’.
SFE launched overnight options on futures, the world’s first product of its type.
Seventy-five years after two young war veterans realised Australia’s vast distances offered the ideal environment for a fledgling aerial service, Qantas shares were listed and traded for the first time on the ASX.
ASX demutualised and become a listed company. It was the first exchange in the world to demutualise and list on its own market, a trend that has been imitated by several other exchanges over the years.
The Australian Mutual Provident Society began in 1849 as an organisation offering life insurance. Now known as AMP it became a publicly listed company on the ASX in 1998.
SFE closed its trading floor and started 24-hour screen trading.
SFE became the first exchange (futures or stocks) in the Asia Pacific to be granted permission by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to set-up trading terminals in the US.
Following the lead of the ASX four years earlier, SFE Corporation demutualised in 2000 and listed on ASX in 2002.
After several years of market commentators, broker analysts and others calling for a merger, ASX and SFE finally merged. Developments amongst international exchanges, such as NYSE and Euronext, reinforced the strategic rationale for merging ASX and SFE. The combined entity became the 9th largest listed exchange group globally and represented an important milestone in the development of Australia’s capital markets.
ASX announced that trading in the ASX Contracts for Difference (CFD) market will begin on 5 November 2007. On the first day of trading there were 16 ASX equity CFDs available. This was complemented with a further 10 ASX CFDs the following week, covering major foreign exchange pairs, the S&P/ASX 200 index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and gold. Additional equity, index and commodity CFDs were launched shortly after.
ASX Market Supervision changed its name to ASX Compliance to reflect the change in the regulatory environment.
The Australian Securities Exchange launched a new brand structure on 1 August 2010, when it became known as ASX Group. The change in the ASX brand structure is another example of how ASX responds to the shifting regulatory framework and changing trading behaviour. As an overarching brand, ASX Group was developed to better reflect the role of ASX Limited as a group holding company with a range of activities linked by their common strategy: to provide the market infrastructure necessary for a globally competitive capital market and a vibrant Australian economy. Today ASX is a world top-10 exchange group measured by market capitalisation.