UK Regulator Tackles ICE
UK competition regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said April 27 it may launch an in-depth investigation of Intercontinental Exchange’s already completed acquisition of Trayport, an energy trading software provider. ICE had its own proprietary trading software before the transaction.
Atlanta-based ICE runs exchanges in Europe used to trade oil and gas futures and derivatives and is the primary exchange-provider for the UK gas hub, Natural Balancing Point (NBP) and - through its Dutch exchange ICE-Endex - a major exchange-provider for the Dutch gas hub TTF.
“ICE is the leading exchange for energy trading in the UK, and in Europe,” said Dr Andrea Coscelli, CMA executive director of markets and mergers and the decision-maker in the ICE/Trayport phase 1 investigation.
“Based on the evidence we’ve gathered, it may have the ability and incentive to increase prices and/or reduce the quality of Trayport’s software products and services – on which its rivals are dependent – in order to divert trading from rival exchanges, over-the-counter (OTC) brokers and clearinghouses to its own exchange and clearinghouse, and/or in order to protect its market position from increased competition.”
The merger will therefore be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation by an independent group of CMA panel members, unless ICE is able to offer undertakings that address CMA’s concerns.
CMA said that ICE has until May 5 2016 to offer undertakings to it that might be accepted by the CMA; if no undertakings are offered and accepted, then the CMA will refer the merger, it said.