I know it may sound a tad bumptious to claim an inner circle on what is already a remarkably elite group of several thousand close associates, investors, exchange leaders who read this free daily newsletter…
…However, I have to admit to being really impressed by the calibre of those signing up for our subscription product. I mean this is an inner circle with clout, and indeed kind comments:
On behalf of myself and the EI team, our profound thanks to a new subscriber, one Mr Gill of Chicago 60606 who sent us this kind remark last evening:
“GREAT newsletter, with very succinct and thought provoking comments.”
This was followed seconds later by the subscription of somebody I can only term: “Professor Doctor, renaissance man of markets and all round genius.” He is also known as the great photographic collector, Richard Sandor whose own portrait ought to hang in every exchange C-suite in recognition of his creation of modern financial futures. Ladies and gentlemen, I am flattered by your support, thank you!
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Today in Exchange Invest: Jeff Sprecher best value CEO in the world at under $18 million a year. OMX is first EU CCP approved (politics & paranoia will now abound), while NYSE looks in the ‘catbird’ seat to win the Alibaba (poisoned chalice?) listing. Meanwhile adventurous funds are already trading the ‘stock’ in a very gray HK market… Bruce Rauner wins Illinois Governor primary while NY Attorney-General seeks way to win votes, er, make that reign in HFT. CBOE execs selling into strength, Barclays Index business for sale, Tobin tax fears on EU forex? Various new index products and as ever more pithy insights to add value to your time in the office, at the water cooler, or as you commute wherever in this wonderful world you are today. Happy scrolling:
Nasdaq OMX Seals First EU Clearing House Approval (subscription)
Anish Puaar – Financial News
Nasdaq OMX’s European clearing house has become the first to receive approval under the region’s derivatives reforms, starting the countdown for when swaps trades need to be cleared in Europe. Under EU derivatives reforms, it means clearing of swaps could begin by December at the earliest or a year from now at most, if the subsequent regulatory process runs smoothly. Nasdaq OMX offers clearing for equity derivatives, interest rate derivatives and commodity derivatives, and claims to be the fourth-largest clearing house in Europe.
Nasdaq OMX press release here.
PLY: NASDAQ OMX are understandably delighted at receiving the first permission in EMIR to add a business line to their Scandinavian vertical silo. Yes, that’s a vertical silo, which their own group CEO and the genteel NLX NED Daniel Hodson are voluble in opposing as a blot on the competitive market landscape. Has the having your cake and eating it index ever enjoyed such a convergence? I feel we require clarity, like a sale of the CCP if NASDAQ wants to be transparently anti-silo…
The broader, worrying EMIR factor here is that DB1 didn’t make the cut through the college of regulators which raises a justifiable political issue. Presumably the Scandinavian CCP isn’t seen as a threat to the Eurozone whereas DB1 now have more ammunition to their case that the EU is out to get them. Certainly while I am delighted the excellence of the Scandinavian CCP has been justly recognised, it is deeply worrying that there appears to be even a micro-vestige of petty national politicking which will damages the EU’s reputation for regulation and fair, free markets.
NYSE Is Front-Runner To Land Prized Alibaba Listing (subscription)
Bradley Hope – Wall Street Journal
Alibaba To Hold U.S. IPO Kick Off Meeting On March 25
Alibaba Is The Latest Battle In War Of Nasdaq v. NYSE
NYSE is the front-runner to win the high-profile listing for the shares of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The listing is expected to be the largest ever in the U.S. by a Chinese company and would be a major prize for the iconic exchange—and another setback for its rival, Nasdaq OMX. EI reported on March 17th that Alibaba had started a U.S. IPO process.
PLY: I will avoid further comment about what I see as this poisoned chalice of corporate governance.
Hong Kong Hedge Funds Tap ‘Fake’ Alibaba Shares Ahead Of IPO (subscription)
Josh Noble – Financial Times
Can’t face waiting for the Alibaba mega-listing? Don’t worry, investment bankers have got you covered. Some hedge funds in Hong Kong have already been loading up on synthetic shares, sold by investment banks as certificates.
PLY: Given the accusations of counterfeit and dishonest trading on Alibaba in the past, the idea that hedge funds are trading a form of unofficial pre-grey market security seems almost karmic. Presumably caveat emptor if your container load of Alibaba certificates turns out to be full of garden furniture and tee shirts…
NY Attorney General Targets HFT
Michelle Celarier – NY Post
NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Calls For New Efforts To Eliminate Unfair Advantages Provided By Trading Venues To HFT
Nasdaq Shares Retreat As N.Y. Investigates High-Speed Trading
Lynn Thomasson – Bloomberg
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking aim at HFT, or what he calls “insider trading 2.0.”
PLY: This strikes me as American Political Ambition 1.0 trying to find a cause to inject gamma up the greasy pole.
CBOE Holdings Top Executives Authorize Stock Sales
Tom Polansek – Reuters
CBOE’s top two executives have each established plans to sell up to 14 percent of their shares in the company, the exchange-operator said on Tuesday, a day after its stock price hit a record high.
The authorizations from Executive Chairman Bill Brodsky and CEO Ed Tilly represent the first time that any of CBOE’s top officers have planned to sell stock since the company went public in 2010.
CBOE press release here.
PLY: Unsurprising as he is on the exit ramp to retirement that former CEO Bill Brodsky would seek to sell some of his holdings. After the mispriced IPO caused the stock to struggle, last year’s market upturn was very benign for CBOE and helped shares increase 60%, generating handy profits for Bill and now CEO Ed Tilly.
Barclays Said To Plan Sale Of Index Unit Valued At $400 Million
Matthew Monks – Bloomberg
Barclays, the second-largest U.K. bank by assets, plans to solicit offers in the next month for its index business, which could fetch $400 million in a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.
CME, which had approached Barclays about buying the Index, Portfolio and Risk Solutions unit last year, is expected to make an offer.
PLY: An interesting business for sale, as Barclays retrenches to being what was always for me a fundamentally incompetent UK retail bank, having already sold their ETF business and with their investment bank apparently in retreat.
BMFBovespa May Sell Properties In Rio And Sao Paulo (subscription)
Rogerio Jelmayer – Wall Street Journal
Brazilian exchange operator BM&F Bovespa may sell its office building in Rio de Janeiro and one of its buildings in Sao Paulo once it completes construction of its new 11,000 square meter data center (expected by 2015). The data center is part of the exchange’s five-year investment plan worth 1.5 billion Brazilian reais (USD 644 mln), which includes other IT projects.
PLY: I can’t help but think the lure of competition suddenly incentivises a monopolist look at their balance sheet and seek a better return…
J.P. Morgan Agrees To Sell Commodities Business (subscription)
Sarah Kent – Wall Street Journal
J.P. Morgan has agreed to sell its commodities trading business to Switzerland-based energy-trading company Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., according to a person familiar with the situation.
The terms of the deal aren’t yet clear, but when the bank first opened its books to potential buyers in October it valued the assets at $3.3 billion.
PLY: There was an excellent profile on Mercuria recently, well worth reading – an incredible story.
Vestar Capital Partners have bought the ISS division of MSCI (formerly part of Riskmetrics), providing corporate governance solutions to financial institutions, for $364 million, subject to customary closing conditions.
PLY: Fintech deals continue to bubble along although I haven’t heard much about those NYSE Tech disposals for a few weeks. Presumably the folks of Evercore are working their socks off endeavouring to sell things.
CFTC Expected to Delay Planned Overseas Derivatives Trading Restrictions (subscription)
Andrew Ackerman – Wall Street Journal
CFTC is likely to put off restrictions on derivatives trading in Europe set to go into effect March 24. It was unclear how long the delay would last.
A delay would reflect efforts by the CFTC, under new leadership, to ease tensions with overseas counterparts as global policy makers seek a coordinated set of international rules for derivatives trading. European officials have complained the CFTC moved too aggressively to apply U.S. rules overseas and have pushed for more time to develop their regulations.
Regulators and trading platforms in UK recently urged the commission to push back its March 24 deadline.
PLY: Some leeway sounds sensible and is an encouraging sign that the CFTC may be more pragmatic after the somewhat abrasive Gensler era.
EU Legal Opinion Opens Door To Tobin Tax On Forex
Huw Jones – Reuters
Deals from the multi-trillion euro a day foreign exchange market could in principle be included in a tax on financial transactions, a legal opinion from EU lawyers seen by Reuters said.
PLY: Very worrying, although at the same time, it will presumably create an onshore (EU) market and an offshore one overnight, no matter how hard the EU would try to come down on the side of fiscal confiscation and market strangulation. Dangerous and worrying for the future of moribund Europe nonetheless.
Fears Grow Over Futures Brokers Consolidation (subscription)
Philip Stafford, Gregory Meyer & Neil Munshi – Financial Times
Consolidation among futures brokers is raising fears that there will be fewer parties to share the risks of default in derivatives markets.
Brokers – middlemen that process trades and manage daily risk exposures on derivatives in markets from interest rates to oil – have struggled for years as commissions decline and low interest rates diminish returns from holding customer cash.
PLY: Bumps in the carpets always arise and the less you consider the big issues, the bigger the bumps will grow. Here’s a gem. In the beginning we cleared all over the place in ETD and gradually learnt to trust big balance sheets, so banks reigned supreme. Trouble is, banks now have all sorts of demands on their balance sheets. They are under the pressure of being wooden timbered sailing ships in a mid-Atlantic storm with GPS monitoring their every move. Does Basel III et al mean it may be better to start looking for big balance sheets which aren’t banks? Hmmm… “Dear Apple / Google / Mercuria Energy Group [delete as appropriate], we were wondering if you have ever thought of client clearing for derivatives given your cash piles…”
…Oh and don’t even get me started on where this leaves the risks at the enlarged, broader, CCPs. As clients will know, the supermodel buffet equation is vital here…
TMX CEO Says Exchange Has Many Ways To Grow Internationally (subscription)
Ben Dummett – Wall Street Journal
As reported yesterday, Tom Kloet, CEO of Canada’s main stock exchange and derivatives market operator is retiring in August after a six-year run. Over much of that period, Tom Kloet has focused on integrating acquisitions, early on the assimilation of the Montreal derivatives exchange and more recently the amalgamation of TMX with CDS Inc., an equities and fixed income clearing house, and alternative trading platform Alpha Group.
His planned retirement also comes after his attempt to create a transatlantic stock exchange through a merger with LSEG collapsed in 2011, making way for a takeover of TMX by Maple Group, an all-Canadian consortium of banks and pension funds in a 3.8 billion Canadian dollar ($3.44 billion) deal.
In an interview with WSJ’s Canada Real Time Tuesday Mr. Kloet discussed reasons for his planned retirement, the failed LSE deal and his future plans.
Numerous Candidates Could Take The Lead As TMX Head Plans Retirement
David Friend – Lethbridge Herald
“They’re going to want somebody who understands electronic markets, and they’re not going to want somebody who’s the old guard,” said Doug Clark, managing director of research at ITG Canada. Among the potential candidates for the top job at TMX is former Montreal Exchange head Luc Bertrand, who had been considered a leading candidate when Kloet won the job. Internal candidates seen as major contenders for the top position include chief financial officer Michael Ptasznik, who has been with the company in various roles for 18 years. Other possibilities could include Larry Leibowitz, the former chief operating officer of NYSE’s parent company, who exited his job when the NYSE Euronext was acquired last year.
PLY: The man who the TMX ought to seek out first up before even considering any other candidate is Luc Bertrand. If he wants the job, then it will be to the endless credit of Canadian Federalism and a progressive vision for markets of the future that he is chosen.
Meanwhile, rumour has it that Larry Leibowitz became CEO, he would turn the entire 5,660 Square kilometer Prince Edward Island into a vast data centre oriented towards HFT and exchange cloud services at a cost of only 3.3 billion dollars with an additional 500 million back-up facility occupying the entirety of Isle Notre Dame in Montreal…
TR Launches Central Registry For Bank Client Data
Steve Slater – Reuters
Thomson Reuters has launched a central register of information to help banks meet increasing compliance demands on who they deal with and cut their costs by reducing duplication.
Panama Launches Diamond Exchange For Bling-Loving Latins (subscription)
Jude Webber – Financial Times
The Panama Diamond Exchange (PDE) will launch this year. Deals worth millions of dollars will be sealed with a solemn handshake and the Hebrew phrase “Mazal u’ Bracha” – “luck and blessing”.
PDE is expected to help the $8bn fine jewellery retail business in Latin America grow to more than $10bn by 2017.
PLY: All new exchanges are welcome, whether dealing in shiny things or not.
NCDEX Starts Warehousing Reforms To Strengthen Quality Checks
NCDEX introduced additional quality safeguards for goods deposited at its warehouses with compulsory quality testing of new deposits.
PLY: Good move. Every incremental step to increase confidence in Indian warehouses is essential, particularly after the NSEL shambles.
MtGox Reopens So Users Can Stare Listlessly At Their Loss
Alex Hern – The Guardian
MtGox, the defunct bitcoin exchange, has re-opened the ability to login to its site, but only to the extent of letting users see the balance in their wallets. Since the site is openly insolvent, and reportedly holds 750,000 fewer bitcoins than it owes to customers, any balance displayed onscreen is unlikely to ever be returned to users.
PLY: Does this open the market to a trade in logins which could be the new frontier of a distressed cryptcurrency market?
Ottawa Bitcoin Exchange Defrauded Of $100,000 In Cyber Currency
Vito Pilieci – Ottawa Citizen
An Ottawa-based bitcoin exchange has been defrauded of more than $100,000 worth of the cyber currency in a heist that was anything but sophisticated.
PLY: A terrifying tale of failures in facilities outsourcing.
Fortress To Roll Bitcoin Stash Into $150m Hedge Fund (subscription)
Stephen Foley – Financial Times
Fortress Investment Group, which became the first Wall Street company to declare an investment in Bitcoin, is rolling its holdings into a $150m hedge fund that is targeting investments from digital currency enthusiasts. Fortress is swapping its $13m stash of Bitcoins as part of a deal that will hand it an equity stake in Pantera Capital Management, the manager of the three-month old Pantera Bitcoin Partners fund. Benchmark, the California-based vc firm whose investments include Twitter and Snapchat, and Ribbit Capital are also taking equity stakes, Pantera announced on Tuesday.
EI reported on March 17th that Pantera Capital Management LP, the hedge fund that manages money for Fortress Investment Group executives, invested about $10 million in Bitstamp months before the startup emerged as the world’s dominant dollar-Bitcoin exchange.
PLY: Fascinating, the opportunities in cryptocurrency within BTC and beyond are simply staggering…
Treasury’s Cohen Sees No Widespread Criminal Bitcoin Use
Carter Dougherty and Greg Farrell – Bloomberg
The U.S. government sees no evidence of “widespread” use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin to evade sanctions or finance terrorism, the Treasury Department’s top official targeting money laundering said.
“Terrorists generally need ‘real’ currency, not virtual currency, to pay their expenses -– such as salaries, bribes, weapons, travel, and safe houses,’ David S. Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. ‘‘The same is true for those seeking to evade sanctions,’’ Cohen said in a speech at the New York headquarters of Bloomberg News.
PLY: Wise words from a US government official. Sanguine common sense that is to be applauded.
Special Section: FTI, NSEL, India at the Crossroads
PLY: A flat day, MCX a little off, FTIL a touch up as the ramifications of the ongoing CBI investigation into NSEL continue to reverberate…
Why Have Bhave And Abraham Been Singled Out?
Mobis Philipose – Livemint
The best defence, by far, has come by Bhave himself. In an interview with The Economic Times newspaper, he rightly questions why his regime had been singled out, given the fact that both his predecessor and his successor at Sebi were involved in similar decisions relating to FTIL.
PLY: Of all the vicarious pleasures the internet delivers, being able to read the rich prose of the Indian media in real-time is a wondrous thing for those resident elsewhere in the world. Mobis Philipose continues to impress with his insights into the Indian marketplace with a logical sensible article surmising the issues pertaining to CBI’s intriguing (interpret that word as broadly as you wish!) intervention in the NSEL affair.
FinMin Questions CBI Enquiry Against Ex-SEBI Chief Bhave, Member Abraham
The Indian Express
The preliminary enquiry against ex-Sebi chief CB Bhave and former member KM Abraham is understood to have raised eyebrows in the finance ministry as an income tax case on the Jignesh Shah led FTIL was closed over three years ago. “The issue has been closed for nearly three years. What then, is the basis of the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation?” said sources close to the development.
A Squawking Parrot
CBI, has made a great fuss out of launching a preliminary inquiry into the 2008 decision by SEBI to allow MCX, and its parent company, FTIL, to start currency derivatives trading. The CBI argues that SEBI went ahead and granted permission even though it had been informed by the finance ministry that income tax raids on FTIL had been carried out in June 2007.
The fact of these raids, the CBI claims, means that MCX and FTIL were not “fit and proper” recipients of sanction from SEBI. The CBI’s director, Ranjit Sinha, has said that the agency thus possesses “credible information” for an inquiry into Sebi and specifically its then chairman, C B Bhave, and another member, K M Abraham.
Euronext announced that it has successfully signed agreements with four exchanges in MENA region for the implementation of its new UTP solution, UTP-Hybrid.
The four exchanges, Amman SE, Beirut SE, Bourse des valeurs Mobilieres de Tunis and Muscat Securities Market, all long-standing and valued clients of Euronext, will benefit from customization, project delivery and ten years of support. The project will include the replacement of the NSC® trading platform, support for which will be discontinued from a commercial perspective in 2015.
NYSE Euronext press release here.
PLY: A good deal for Euronext to upgrade these bourses, albeit reading the release one way it feels a bit like one of those Microsoft ‘we’re ending support for your system so buy a new version or sod off’ releases. Naturally that word “customisation” is always a worry as it looks worryingly like Euronext shorthand for “we’re going to spend our profit margin on adopting the system to the clients’ needs” (let’s be positive, perhaps that only applies to MTFs?). Anyway, the biggest note of confidence is that the clients have signed up for 10 years of support. So clearly somebody thinks Euronext will survive that long.
Bloomberg is working with more than 125 financial software providers in an effort to establish integrated, scalable and reliable enterprise solutions for its financial services clients via its Bloomberg Enterprise Solutions and Trading Solutions businesses with a formal process to enable financial software providers to connect to Bloomberg applications and access its premium financial information.
PLY: Very interesting, Bloomberg is gradually opening up…
CME will launch North American physically delivered Aluminum futures contracts to begin trading on May 5, 2014, pending all regulatory approvals.
KRX will launch a gold trading platform next Monday. Last year, the country’s financial authorities unveiled a plan to set up a gold trading platform in line with the government’s efforts to bring the underground economy into the open and squeeze taxes out of the market where tax evasion is rampant.
Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) will launch a hot-rolled coil futures contract on March 21.
SGX To Launch New Order Types For Securities
SGX will enhance the types of orders for the stock market from 31 March 2014.
Trading hours for the CBOE Volatility index VIX futures will be extended to nearly 24 hours a day, five days a week, beginning June 22, CBOE. Pending regulatory review, the trading week for VIX futures at CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) will begin each Sunday at 5:00 p.m. CT and end on Friday at 3:15 p.m. CT. CFE will close for 15 minutes between 3:15 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT on Monday through Thursday, when no trading will be transacted. The new trading day on those days will then begin at 3:30 p.m. CT.
CBOE press release here.
STOXX introduced the STOXX Japan Strong Balance Sheet Indices, which select stocks according to their Altman Z-Score, a quantitative measure for the financial and fundamental health of a company.
ICE More Than Doubled CEO’s Pay To Nearly $18 mln In 2013
John McCrank – Reuters
ICE more than doubled the total compensation of its CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, last year to just under $18 million, according to a regulatory filing.
PLY: And every last cent was well spent. Frankly, he’s cheap at that price, especially when compared to packages paid to some other CEOs.
Kevin Milne, a long-term veteran of the London market infrastructure industry, left Rate Validation Services at the end of February.
PLY: Good luck Kevin on your next move.
Algomi, the provider of information-matching solutions to optimise fixed income liquidity, has named Grant Biggar as a Strategic Advisor, effective immediately. Biggar, the former President of Creditex, has also made an investment in the company. His appointment comes follows Howard Edelstein’s appointment to a similar role at Algomi.
IMF Deputy MD Nemat “Minouche” Shafik has informed IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde of her intention to leave the Fund to assume the position of Deputy Governor at BoE responsible for Markets and Banking starting on August 1, 2014…
…as HM Treasury has today announced that Her Majesty The Queen has agreed, on the recommendation of the Chancellor and PM, to appoint Anthony Habgood as the Chairman of Court, and Dr Ben Broadbent as Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy. In addition, the Chancellor and the Governor have agreed to appoint Dr Nemat Shafik as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England responsible for Markets and Banking.
The appointments of Anthony Habgood and Dr Ben Broadbent are effective 1 July 2014. The appointment of Dr Nemat Shafik is effective 1 August 2014.
PLY: Congratulations to political newcomer Bruce Rauner (the “R” in Chicago PE firm GTCR – frequent investors in fintech and exchanges, although he retired from GTCR in 2012) on winning the Republican Primary in Illinois. He now faces off against Governor Pat Quinn, whose erroneous ‘read my lips no new taxes’ pledge at the last election may come back to haunt him. Rauner is running as an outsider GOP candidate with a transparently successful business track record. He is keen to cut the waste and excess of the Illinois state government mechanism. Illinois is seen as a likely potential gain for the GOP amongst the Governorships being contested November 4th alongside the national mid-terms. Rauner’s primary campaign was in recent weeks nearly derailed by a vicious and well-funded trades union campaign where the public service workers spent millions encouraging democrats to cross party boundaries and vote against Rauner, fearing that he may erode union power.
CBOE $0.18 quarterly dividend payment
NZX $NZ 0.0160 final dividend payment
IPO Roundtable (Jointly organised by EuropeanIssuers, EVCA and FESE) – 18th June 2014
FESE Convention – 19th June 2014
All forthcoming exchange / investment related events are now listed in our Events page.
ICE Director Fred W. Hatfield sold 1,291 shares Friday, March 14th at an average price of $203.41 (bargain $262,602.31). He now owns 6,471 shares.
India – SEBI May Tighten Public Shareholding Norms For Bourses
Samie Modak – Business Standard
SEBI will soon decide whether public financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies which are also trading members on stock exchanges can continue to be classified as ‘public’ shareholders in bourses.
PLY: Rome, fiddles, burns, micromanagement. Arrange in a useful phrase or sentence upgraded to allow for contemporary times and reactionary regulators.
India – New FMC Penalties For Short Collection Of Margin Money
FMC has decided to levy a penalty of up to five per cent on members of national commodity exchanges failing to collect the required margin money. Incorrect reporting will attract a 100 per cent penalty on the shortfall.
PLY: That is pretty harsh but then again it has to be said the brokers probably brought this on themselves in recent times with NSEL et al…
SGX CDP To Move Customer Service Centre To The Metropolis
SGX Central Depository (SGX CDP) is moving its customer service centre and operations to The Metropolis on April 14 to provide easier access to its customers as it is near Buona Vista MRT interchange.
ASIC Publishes Seventh Market Supervision Report
Report 386 ASIC supervision of markets and participants: July to December 2013 (REP 386) highlights the volume of market and participant-related outcomes achieved by ASIC in the second half of 2013.