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The New Zealand Stock Exchange is the country's national stock exchange. Its legal name is New Zealand Exchange Limited and it trades as NZX. The exchange runs three markets with a new one in development.
While New Zealand's stock markets date back to the 1870s, the country did not have a single national stock exchange until 1974. At this time the various regional exchanges came together to form the New Zealand Stock Exchange. This name changed to NZX in 2003, shortly after the exchange demutualized. This meant it was no longer owned solely by its members, but instead was a publicly traded company in itself.
There are three main markets in the New Zealand Stock Exchange. The NZ Stock Market, of NZSX, once known as the Main Board, is the primary exchange. It covers more than 200 companies. As with many stock markets, it has a headline index, the NZSX 50, which tracks the 50 largest companies by market capitalization.
The NZ Alternative Market, or NZAX, is designed for companies where listing on the main exchange is not ideal. This includes smaller companies that are growing rapidly, those for whom the costs of being listed on the main exchange would be prohibitive, and organizations with unconventional set up, such as co-operatives. NZAX offers a Sponsor scheme where banks can help companies with the costs and administration of listing on the market.
The NZ debt market, or NZDX, deals with debt securities. These include company bonds, government stock and Treasury bills. As of 2010, there were plans for a fourth market for the New Zealand Stock Exchange. Titled NZFOX, it was scheduled to allow trading of futures and options contracts based on securities traded on the other markets.
The New Zealand Stock Exchange also has several subsidiaries. It is the outright owner of Smartshares, which offers investment funds, and FundSource, which researches fund performance. It has a partial stake in Link Market Services, which runs a share registry, and Apello Services, which offers fund management administration services.
NZX also has a range of interests in the agriculture finance sector. These include Agrifax, which provides pricing and information services, Dairyweek, which is a weekly news abstract service for the dairy industry, and Newsroom, which publishes many agricultural magazines. NZX is also partnering with several banks in an attempt to launch a rival electronic communications service to the existing set-up in Australian financial markets.