How auctions work - the basics

Auctions are a widely accepted method for transparently and fairly defining the market price for financial products.


Investors can bid to buy, or offer to sell, financial products at auctions.
At each auction, except where the auction states a fixed price, the total supply and demand for the financial products determines the final price to be paid by all successful buyers, to all successful sellers.
This means no trades are completed until the end of the auction and all buyers and sellers pay or receive the same fair price for the financial products.
Trades are also allocated to successful auction participants, using our simple priority rules.

How bids and offers work

Currently, all bids and offers are ‘limit orders’, which means they are an order to buy or sell the financial products at the specific price or a better price. Other simple order types will be coming soon.

‘Bids’ are an offer to buy up to a maximum number of financial products, at the specified price or below
‘Offers’ are an offer to sell up to a maximum number of financial products, at the specified price or above


Ana submits a bid to buy 100 shares at $1.00, which means she is prepared to pay $1.00 or less for each of the 100 shares.
If her bid is successful and the auction process sets the fair price per share at $0.98, then she will pay $0.98 per share rather than $1.00 per share.
Ana will pay a total of $98 plus any fees for the 100 shares.

This means buyers will never pay more than their bid price, and sellers will never receive less than their offer price - but both buyers and sellers have the potential for a better price than their bid or offer.

For more technical information on how a ‘fair’ price is calculated, have a read of our page on how auctions work.

The auction process

1: Information update

Go to our Market pages to see information about the businesses you can trade and when their Auctions are being held. Auctions are held periodically. You can only trade financial products on Catalist when an auction for those financial products is open.

2: Auction open

When an auction is open, you can submit bids (to buy) and offers (to sell) the relevant financial products. You can cancel bids and offers if you do so before the end of the open period.

The start and end time of the open period will be clearly published. The length of the open period will differ between auctions, but could be a couple of days, or a couple of weeks.

The open period will not end any earlier than the published end time, but we may extend this period, if necessary, to ensure auctions are fair and orderly.

Any bids or offers not cancelled before the end of the open period will be binding and you will be legally obligated to complete the transaction if your bid or offer is successful.

3: Auction pre-closing

During the pre-closing period, your bids and offers can no longer be cancelled and restrictions are applied to improving bids and offers.

Only investors who have submitted a bid or offer during the open period can improve their bid or offer during the pre-closing period. If you have submitted a bid, we need to receive any payment requested before you can improve your bid. You can only improve a bid or offer by a maximum of 10% (price and/or volume) during the pre-closing period.

Our auction pages tell you when to expect the pre-closing period of the auction to end. The pre-closing period might last, for example, one day. If significant bids or offers are added in the last fifteen minutes of the pre-closing period, we may extend the period to allow you to react to those new bids or offers. The pre-closing period can be extended as many times as is necessary to ensure a fair and orderly market. The end time is also randomised by a few minutes to avoid manipulation.

The pre-closing period allows investors to react to any late bids or offers, in the knowledge that those bids and offers can’t be cancelled at the last moment.

Although you are not entitled to cancel bids and offers during the pre-closing period, we reserve the right to allow cancellation or amendment, at our discretion, if you promptly contact us and can show the bid or offer was a genuine mistake.

4: Auction closed

Provisional auction results are made available after the auction has closed. If your bid or offer has been successful, you are legally obligated to complete the transaction and we may complete the transaction on your behalf.

In some circumstances the provisional auction results may change after an auction has closed. If for any reason, an investor does not honour their bid, Catalist may either cancel that investor’s bid (in whole or in part) or transfer that investor’s bid to another person. If the bid is cancelled, we will recalculate the results of the auction. This may affect the final price of the financial products, or which bids and offers are successful.

If an investor has only part-paid for their bid, Catalist may choose to accept part of that bid and cancel the remainder, so the bid effectively becomes a bid for a smaller volume at the same price bid by that investor.

We notify you when the results and all transactions are finalised. After we have confirmation that all payments due from successful bidders have been paid, we will:

Update the legal register of title for the financial products
Pay the relevant purchase price (less any fees) to the successful sellers
Update investors’ online accounts to reflect their new holdings
Repay any funds held in relation to unsuccessful bids

This settlement process is completed in accordance with our Electronic Transfer System Rules.

We aim to make payments to all sellers within 5 business days of the end of the auction, although this is subject to receiving cleared funds from the buyers.

Information available during an auction

Investors will be able to see information about each business, and their financial products, in the Market section of our website. Investors should review this information before submitting bids or offers in an auction.

During an auction, investors will be able to see, in real time, the price the financial products would be if the auction were to close at that moment. Investors can also see whether their bid or offer would currently be successful by checking their dashboard.

This information is only indicative. Investors will be notified of the final closing price and successful bids and offers, in accordance with the process described above.

Information available after an auction

After the payments for an auction have been completed, we will publish anonymised information about the complete orderbook, i.e. all final bids and offers.

In the Catalist Public Market, directors, senior managers and people who have a substantial holding in the business, are required by law to disclose certain changes to their ownership. We will also publish any notices we receive from these people about their holdings of the financial products.

If you’d like to know the more technical side of our auction process, have a read of our page on how auctions work.

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