Calls for an investigation into the short selling alleged to be behind the wild gyrations in the price of a number of JSE-listed companies will probably not be acted on. The calls have focused on revealing the identity of the parties behind the short selling that almost wiped Steinhoff out in December and subsequently caused considerable damage to the Aspen share price as well as to the prices of a number of property companies. While Aspen and the property companies have recovered most of their losses, the same cannot be said for Steinhoff, which four weeks later remains below R10. This isn’t the first time there have been calls for some control over short selling. In the 1990s, when it first became a significant issue on the JSE, Liberty founder Donald Gordon was a firm opponent and demanded tough action from regulators. His opposition was based on the fact that his share was often attacked by short sellers. Some regulations were introduced to curb the worst perceived excesses. Dec...

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