syn...i don't think this is a issue one way or another. this is a plain vanilla employee stock purchase plan (espp). 99% of public companies have them and in this format. they allow employees only to buy up to a capped amount of stock each quarter at a 15% discount to market price. the company itself pays the 15% and the employee pays 85% of the market price. market price is determined at the start or end of each quarter. however, in either case, you have to make your election a number of days prior to the start of each period, so employees can't "market time" this. also, this does not affect the public market price, as the shares that are purchased by the employees are not made in the open market, but rather in a separate pool of stock set up by the employer with the adminsitering agent.
overall, i think it is positive that epct is turning it on now, as it is another indiciation that "insiders" think the stock price is low and that there is demand by employees to purchase company stock, but i don't think it plays into any sort of manipulation theories....
taz...in the US, if you have a datafeed called "level 2", you can see the names of the market makers that are trading with each other. however, the market maker is rarely trading for its own account, so it is virtually impossible to determine the ultimate customer who the market maker is selling or buying on behalf of as agent. in fact, the ultimate customer may be burried four or five layers behind the market maker.
however, as i have posted in the past, for proprietary trading of institutions (e.g., banks, brokers, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.), you can see their holdings (net amount owned) about 45 days after the end of each quarter, as of the end of that quarter. i use the nasdaq trader website for that. look back to the institutional ownership thread for those postings.
can you tell who the ultimate customer is that is buying or selling in sweden, or can you only tell the market maker who is buying or selling, which is likely as agent for an unknown customer (e.g., either Goldman Sachs prop desk, or John "retail customer" Doe.)???
my point is, unless you know who the ultimate customer is, you can't really read anything into the fact that merrill lynch is selling or buying shares in sweden....right?