The Swiss stock exchange has given up on its New Market, three years after it set up the alternative exchange for promising new firms.
The Swiss bourse says it will no longer actively seek listings for the New Market, which has failed to bring any new firms on board since 2000, the year after it was set up. All marketing and communications activities have been suspended.
"The market is very bad right now and there is no hope that we will see further initial public offerings in the next few months," Leo Hug, spokesman for the Swiss stock exchange told swissinfo.
Analysts say the SWX is effectively allowing the alternative market to die a slow death, in the face of collapsing share prices on the world's major bourses. Recent efforts by the SWX to persuade companies in Switzerland and abroad to list on the New Market have proved futile.
"We had talks with the companies listed on the New Market and we had the impression that some were thinking of moving to other exchanges. Therefore it didn't make sense to go on with our marketing activities," Hug said.
The 15 firms quoted on the New Market - seven of which are foreign - are expected to seek to move their listings to the main exchange.
The SWX accompanied the move with an announcement that it intended to overhaul all of its share trading segments with the aim of "allocating the listed companies to special marketing segments".
It added that the determining factor in deciding where to place a particular firm would not, as in the past, be decided by regulatory differences, "but instead other criteria such as industry grouping and performance".
The New Market was launched to great fanfare in 1999 as an alternative to Germany's Neuer Markt and the US's Nasdaq. The aim was to provide new Swiss firms with access to the capital market, and to encourage promising foreign firms to list in Zurich.
The New Market managed to attract a total of 17 firms, one of which - Miracle - went bust and the other, Card Guard, was moved to a different trading segment.
The SWX was cheered by the performance of its pan-European blue chip platform, Virt-x, which turned a profit for the first time since it was set up a year ago.
Virt-x was created last year by the merger of the Swiss exchange's blue chip segment and the loss-making British exchange, Tradepoint. Swiss blue chips account for seven per cent of European blue chip trading.
The platform turned a profit of £2.56 million (SFr5.9 million) in the first half compared with a loss of £4.2 million for the second half of 2001.
It narrowly failed to reach its first year target to win ten per cent of trade in Europe's top 600 stocks but secured a 9.2 per cent market share in the second quarter.
swissinfo with agencies
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