ASIC, ASX probe analyst standards

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission and the Australian Stock Exchange are pushing ahead with plans for an industry standard on independent analyst research. ASIC will visit five companies, reportedly including Salomon Smith Barney, JB Were, UBS Warburg and Macquarie Bank. The visits don't amount to an investigation, however, just a look at the standards applied in separating research from investment banking.

The ASX is preparing a second draft of its industry guidelines and has relaxed one of the more contentious proposals in its first draft which barred anyone connected with a recommendation change from trading in a stock 30 days before or five days afterwards. Brokers are concerned that two sets of industry standards may be introduced, leading to increased costs and confusion.