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30 September 2018

Financial Times: European banks mull leaving UK derivatives market

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European banks are considering whether to begin closing out their trillions of pounds’ worth of derivatives positions in London in the coming months as the UK struggles to finalise an agreement on leaving the EU.

Concern is rising among senior executives that they will lose access to UK clearing houses, which sit at the heart of global market stability. The companies process thousands of securities and derivatives deals a day, standing between parties in a deal and managing the risk to the market if one side defaults on payment.

London’s clearing houses, in particular LCH, process most of Europe’s swaps business. The Bank of England estimates that around £38tn of deals are affected by Brexit, including 90 per cent of euro-denominated interest rate swaps.

The deliberations come as the UK and EU step up their contingency plans for the UK’s departure from the bloc in March without a political agreement. Brussels has been working for months to screen its financial services regulations and find rules that need to be changed because of Brexit.

“The financial markets are usually ahead of the political debate. If there is no transition period agreed in December, you will see the derivative market reacting already . . . it does not happen on April 1,” said the chief executive of a major European bank with positions in London.

The clearing house, which is majority-owned by the London Stock Exchange Group, has told customers that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it will have to issue 90 days’ notice that EU customer positions would have to be closed, according to four people who have had conversations with LCH.

It is likely that those notices would be issued in November or early December. LCH declined to comment.

Esma, the European regulator, has told UK clearing houses — LCH, ICE Clear Europe and the London Metal Exchange — that they may not be able to submit applications to be recognised until after the UK has left the EU, thus preventing them from continuing to do business with their members based in the European Economic Area after the end of March.

Full article on Financial Times (subscription required)

© Financial Times

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