CME reportedly plans European exchange

The exchange reportedly will start with currency futures

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Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- CME Group Inc., owner of the world’s biggest futures exchange, plans a derivatives market in London, setting up in direct competition with Eurex and Liffe, the largest venues, three people familiar with the situation said.

The exchange will start with currency futures, the people said, declining to be identified as the information isn’t public. CME’s European exchange will be led by a chief executive officer and have a separate management team to CME’s existing London office, they said. CME Clearing Europe will process trading for the new London exchange, the people said. Chicago- based CME plans to file with the U.K. securities regulator in the coming weeks as the first step in the process.

Ten years after going public CME Group has become the most valuable exchange operator in the world, capitalizing on the higher profitability of derivatives while the value of equity trading has declined. The company controls 98 percent of the U.S. futures market and gets about 20 percent of its business outside U.S. trading hours. It opened a London-based clearinghouse, CME Clearing Europe, last year.

The new exchange represents competition for Liffe and Eurex, whose owners, NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse AG, had their plan to merge blocked by European antitrust authorities in February.

Merger Delay

CME has been working on the project for about two years. It was delayed while NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse held merger talks, the people said. Regulators scrutinizing the NYSE- Deutsche Boerse deal were focused on whether sufficient competition in derivativesexisted in Europe and whether CME might become “a significant player” there.

CME was also sidetracked by the bidding war for the London Metal Exchange because acquiring the venue would have given it a European exchange to build on, the people said. As CME was unsuccessful in its LME bid, it decided to forge ahead with the project, the people said.

Allan Schoenberg, a spokesman for CME in London, declined to comment.

Eurex is Europe’s largest derivatives exchange and London- based Liffe is second. Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the second-largest U.S. futures market, owns ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. Trading at ICE Futures Europe exchange set a second-quarter record.

European Future

In January, a senior CME executive said the exchange’s future is in Europe.

“London is a major office, the future is in Europe,” Felix Carabello, CME Group’s managing director of International Strategic Sales, said in a January interview on the exchange’s plans for the region. “We want to be part of the community, it’s not an outpost.” He wasn’t more specific.

During the year it spent fighting for its deal, NYSE argued that its greatest competitor in derivatives is CME, not Deutsche Boerse. It cited an 89 percent membership overlap between CME and Liffe and rivalry in trading Euribor and Eurodollar futures. CME last year offered Euribor futures and options on its electronic trading platform, pitting itself directly against Liffe, which dominates the market for co-called short-term interest rate products.

“Would we invest in a new exchange based in Europe?” Andrew Lamb, chief executive officer of CME Clearing Europe, said in a January interview. “Yes, but based on tangible client demand.”

Bloomberg News

--Editors: Chris Nagi, Lynn Thomasson.

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