Tuesday 27th January 2015
NEWS TICKER, JANUARY 27TH: BNP Paribas’ 4th Quarter 2014 Results will be available on Thursday February 5th from 6:00 am (London time) on the bank’s website. A live webcast in English with synchronised slides of the analysts presentation hosted by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé (CEO) will be available on the website starting at 1:30 pm (GMT). - Kurdish forces say they have expelled the Islamic State fighters from the Syrian town of Kobani, near the Turkish border. However, this is the now the fourth time in as many months that this news has been disseminated - - Deutsche Börse will announce its preliminary results for the 2014 operating year on February 19th - S&P has lowered the Russian credit rating to junk with negative outlook as the sliding oil prices and tensions in Ukraine now look to be a serious threat to the country’s financial and political stability, says SwissQuote. The FX analytics firm notes that the USD/RUB is testing 70 offers. “Should the sell-off gains momentum above 70, we expect the CBR to intervene to temper the ruble depreciation. The CBR meets on January 30th and is expected to keep the bank rate unchanged at 17%. Given the selling pressures on the ruble, we do not expect any cut yet. Russia’s forex reserves eases toward 2009 lows, $379.4bn as of January 16th. With the free-floating RUB, the FX reserves will certainly keep fading, therefore should bring the CBR to find alternative ways to intervene to slowdown the debasing”. - Latvia’s prime minister’s office, has issued a statement about events in the Ukraine. "We express our concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. We condemn the killing of civilians during the indiscriminate shelling of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on 24 January 2015. We note evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility. We urge Russia to condemn the separatists' actions and to implement the Minsk agreements. We recall the European Council conclusions of 18 December 2014, where we said that "the EU will stay the course" and that we are "ready to take further steps if necessary." In view of the worsening situation the office asks “the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council to assess the situation and to consider any appropriate action, in particular on further restrictive measures, aiming at a swift and comprehensive implementation of Minsk agreements,” says the statement. Latvia has assumed the presidency of the EU for the six months to June. - Data from the IMF suggests that The Netherlands has raised its gold holdings, having bought 9.61 tonnes in December last year. Russia too continues to build its gold reserves and has increased stock for the ninth consecutive month, buying 20.73 tonnes last month. The purchases by the Dutch central bank follows its move in November to repatriate more than 120 tonnes of gold from vaults in the United States - UK GDP looks to be weaker than expected but remains good news for investors. “The first estimates of the Q4 GDP numbers came in slightly below expectations at 0.5% and markedly slower than the previous three quarters of 2014. The primary driver of the reduced growth rate was the construction sector, which saw output fall by 1.8%. However, the slowdown was not enough to prevent the fastest full year growth rate of 2.7% since the financial crisis,” says Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. “Despite numbers being slightly weaker than expected, we believe the UK economy remains relatively robust. After a fantastic few years in the construction sector it is quite natural to see a return to normal markets conditions. The services element of the UK economy remains healthy and the full benefits of the plunge in the price of oil are still to come. Low inflation will hold back interest rate rises and we therefore believe that for investors the equity market remains the asset class of choice.” - Societe Generale Securities Services (SGSS) has launched a new website, Sharinbox, for corporations and their registered shareholders and employees who benefit from free share plans, stock options plans and other incentive schemes. Operational since December 13th last year, the website, www.sharinbox.societegenerale.com, provides users with direct, multilingual access to an online resource with information regarding their share and employee ownership plans in order to manage their personal data and transactions – According to Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, “Given the headwinds being felt by major oil companies around the world, the share price performance since the beginning of last year, while uninspiring, has still out performed the oil price which given the macro economic back drop is all the more surprising … We’ve already seen the effects that the slump in the oil price is having on the oilfield service providers in the US, with both Baker Hughes and Halliburton announcing job losses as the companies see rig counts drop, and margins decline. We’ve also seen WBH Energy, a Texas based shale producer file for bankruptcy. Despite all these concerns the shares have outperformed, though that probably has more to do with the buyback program the company has been doing than anything to do with outperformance relative to its peers. The company has been buying back shares on a fairly steady basis over the past 12 months and this undoubtedly will have accounted for the relative outperformance”.The FSCS has started paying compensation in respect of 13 firms, including seven investment advice firms and three life and pension advice firms that have gone into default. The financial advice firms which have entered default, according to the scheme are: Barry Norris & Associates, Premier Financial Advice, The Financial Consultancy (UK), True Financial Management (formerly HNL Financial Services), Unleash Advice Partnership, and AJ Buckley Financial Management formerly AJ Buckley Overseas, City Insurance Consultants. Last week, the FSCS published its plan and budget for the coming year, which revealed investment advisers would be paying £125m towards the FSCS annual levy for 2015/16. Life and pension intermediaries are paying a £57m levy, an increase of £24m compared to the £33m the FSCS levied against the funding sub-class for 2014/15. Since it was set up in 2001, the FSCS has paid out more than£975 million in compensation to customers of defaulted advice firms. In November 2014, the FSCS said it had dealt with the default of 2,391 independent advice firms since it was set up. - Retail Sales in the United Kingdom unexpectedly increased in December, as the drop in oil prices boosted the country’s spending power. The increase came from a 5.2% gain in computers, telecoms, toys, and sporting goods sales, while food sales alone contributed 1.3%. There was a decline in sales of some items, such as clothing and household goods, reflecting a boost from Black Friday discounts the previous month - The Source Goldman Sachs Equity Factor Index Europe UCITS ETF has been launched, the second Source ETF to be launched that provides access to Goldman Sachs’ multi-factor indices. “Smart beta funds have proven successful in certain markets, providing investors with the potential to generate better returns than the more common market-cap weighted benchmarks, particularly on a risk-adjusted basis,” says Michael John Lytle, chief development officer at Source. “The Goldman Sachs series of factor-based indices offer exposure to multiple factors, rather than just the one or two that are applied to many other funds on the market.” – Mixed news from the US over the weekend. Housing starts in the US surged, as builders broke ground in December on the most houses in almost seven years. Work began on 728,000 houses at an annual rate, a 7.2% increase from November and the most since March 2008. On the other hand, building permits, a representation for future construction declined 1.9% in December to a 1.03m pace, however more Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, signaling that the holiday employment turnover is taking its toll on the jobs market. Jobless claims dropped by 10,000 to 307,000 in the week ending January 17th down from a revised rate of 317,000 in the prior week, a Labor department report shows. Applications for jobless benefits were expected to decline to 300,000, according to market surveys by economists - German ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed for a third consecutive month in January to 48.4 from 34.9 in December. Economists forecast an increase to 40, according to the median of 37 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. The sentiment index jumped to the highest level in 11 months - Singapore Exchange is partnering Clearbridge Accelerator to address financing gaps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. SGX said on Monday (Jan 26) it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CBA, a Singapore venture capital and incubation firm specialising in early-stage investments. Under the agreement, both parties will form a joint-venture (JV) company to develop the fund-raising platform, which aims to address financing gaps SMEs and entrepreneurs face by providing the investing community with greater transparency. The JV will identify and form a strategic equity partnership with an experienced platform operator and industry stakeholders such as financial institutions to operate the new capital-raising platform. It will also identify other partners and collaborators to create demand among investors for the offerings on the platform, according to the press release. The move to help smaller firms raise funding marks the entry of SGX into a new business area. Besides operating the stock market, which caters to the equity needs of more to established firms, SGX also offers a platform for bonds as well as derivatives and commodities. Enterprise development agency SPRING Singapore will play a supporting role in the formation of the JV, as part of its ongoing efforts to make the financing environment more conducive to SMEs and entrepreneurs, the statement added. - Hedge funds swung to betting on price falls in cotton, soybeans and wheat, amid ideas of easier supplies, as they cut bullish positioning in agricultural commodities to the weakest in three months Managed money, a proxy for speculators, cut its net long position in futures and options in the top 13 US-traded agricultural commodities, from coffee to cattle, by more than 43,000 contracts in the week to last Tuesday, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulator - Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, today announced that the Viagogo Group, which operates www.viagogo.com, the ticket marketplace, intends to double its workforce in Ireland over the next three years, taking it from 100 to over 200 employees. The jobs are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland -

EU seeks CSD regulation and proportionality

Thursday, 19 April 2012
EU seeks CSD regulation and proportionality In early March this year the European Commission issued proposals to improve securities settlement in the EU and the operation of central securities depositories (CSDs). The proposal has the potential to speed-up harmonisation of post-trade processes in Europe, thereby helping to make cross-border securities transactions less complex, less risky and less costly. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and the Council (member states) for negotiation and adoption under Europe’s co-decision procedure. Francesca Carnevale reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

In early March this year the European Commission issued proposals to improve securities settlement in the EU and the operation of central securities depositories (CSDs). The proposal has the potential to speed-up harmonisation of post-trade processes in Europe, thereby helping to make cross-border securities transactions less complex, less risky and less costly. The proposal now passes to the European Parliament and the Council (member states) for negotiation and adoption under Europe’s co-decision procedure. Francesca Carnevale reports.

The EU Commission’s proposal aims to harmonise both the timing and conduct of securities settlement in Europe and the rules governing central securities depositories (CSDs) which operate the infrastructures enabling settlement. CSDs constitute the last layer in the post-trade infrastructure. Their role is to ensure the smooth completion of securities transactions once these have been traded and cleared. The proposal harmonises timing and discipline of securities settlement in the EU and forwards the establishment, for the first time at European level, a common authorisation, supervision and regulatory framework for CSDs.

“The Commission is optimistically working on the assumption that the ­regulation will generally come into force in early 2013. However provisions relating to the harmonised T+2 settlement period won’t come into force until 1 January 2015 and the provisions imposing the dematerial­isation/immobilisation of securities will not enter into force until 1 January 2020,” explains James Tinworth, funds partner in the corporate practice at law firm Stephenson Harwood.



Alan CameronAlan Cameron, head of client segment, financial institutions and broker-dealers, at BNP Paribas ­Securities ServicesEssentially, the proposals are designed to increase the safety of settlements, particularly for cross-border transactions, by ensuring that buyers and sellers receive their securities and money on time and without risks; increase the efficiency of settlements by introducing a true internal market for the operations of national CSDs; and to augment the safety of CSDs by applying high prudential requirements in line with international standards. “Essentially it is about reducing risks and costs; in line with regulation, the industry also has to focus on these elements. Neither element is exclusivel but in reality the industry has tended to focus either or one or the other,” concedes Alan Cameron,  head of client segment, financial institutions and broker-dealers, at BNP Paribas Securities Services.

The proposals have been forwarded to help mitigate risk in the post trade environment, at a time when cross border trading of securities is rising and where legislation (T2S and EMIR, for instance) proposes heightened responsibilities for institutions in the post trade segment. The environment is dynamic: as cross-border transactions in Europe, ranging from usual purchases/sales of securities to collateral transfers, continue to increase and CSDs become increasingly interconnected. These trends are expected to accelerate with the advent of Target2 Securities (T2S), a project launched by the Eurosystem to provide a common technical platform for securities settlement in Europe, which is scheduled to start in 2015.

While generally safe and efficient within national borders, settlement across borders presents higher risks and costs for investors than domestic operations. The EU believes it to be important to have a harmonised set of measures across Europe for settlement, which will also serve to help CSDs. “Post trade costs have come down,” explains Cameron, “ and continue to fall. However, there’s a point where people are concerned about the huge infrastructure that is emerging in this search for harmonisation.”

Up to now CSDs have tended to be regulated at the national level and lack a common set of prudential, organisational and conduct of business standards at ­international (or European) level. This ­regulation does not in essence change this infrastructure.

As it stands under current proposals, CSDs will be authorised and supervised by “national competent authorities specifically designated by the member states”. These authorities must, however, consult and cooperate with “other relevant authorities, which include the authorities from the member states responsible for the oversight of each securities settlement system operated by CSDs and the central banks in whose accounts securities transactions are settled”.

Moreover, “Where a CSD has subsidiaries in several member states the proposed regulation requires the authority responsible for the supervision of the CSD to cooperate with the authorities responsible for the ­supervision of its subsidiaries. This co­operation also implies immediate information of the authorities involved in case of emergency situations affecting the liquidity and stability of the financial system in any of the member states where the CSD or its participants are established,” states the EC Commission website.

The European ­Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) however will be responsible for ensuring cooperation between national authorities and developing commonly applied technical standards. Within hours of the release of the proposal, the European Central Securities Depositary Association (ECSDA) stated that it welcomed the regulation. The association represents some 42 national and inter­national CSDs across Europe, providing a forum for its members to exchange views and take forward projects of mutual interest. Combined, members of the ­association held approximately €37.9trn in securities at the start of 2011; no mean amount.

ECSDA notes that CSDs support the move to a settlement cycle of two business days after trade date for most securities across Europe. “The adoption of a common framework for settlement discipline could also benefit market transparency and safety by reinforcing incentives for market ­participants to fulfill their obligations and deliver securities on time,” says the association. Soraya Belghazi, secretary general of ECSDA, notes: “Like other critical market infrastructures, CSDs exist to take risk out of the market, which is why global ­regulators and the G20 in particular are keen to encourage their use by market participants. Rather than disrupting the existing market structure in post-trade, ECSDA thinks that financial stability can be enhanced by tight regulation of the limited credit function of some CSDs and by the adoption of an effective resolution regime for market infrastructures.”

Soraya BelghaziSoraya Belghazi, secretary general of ECSDAThe adoption of a common framework for settlement discipline could also benefit market transparency and safety by reinforcing incentives for market participants to fulfil their obligations and deliver securities on time. Even so, not all the EU proposals have been received positively. According to ECSDA some measures put forward by the Commission “do not seem proportionate given the strength and resilience of CSDs particularly during the financial crisis. These measures are not justified by any market failure and should be recalibrated to avoid disrupting the operation of existing CSDs in some markets”.

In particular, the association suggests the regulation could make it more difficult for CSDs to establish links with other CSDs, in contradiction to the spirit of the TARGET2-Securities (T2S) project of the eurosystem which encourages CSDs to build links and to compete for cross-border business. “It is possible that ECSDA is concerned that there will be less need for a CSD to establish links with CSDs in other member states given that it could just passport into the relevant member states under the regulation,” comments Tinworth at Stephenson Harwood. “I assume, however, that ECSDA is primarily referring to the numerous requirements in the proposed Regulation relating to “CSD links”. The main requirement is that a CSD intending to set up a “CSD link” would need to apply for authorisation. It does seem as if the proposed requirements will make it more difficult for CSDs to establish links with other CSDs, although, crucially, Articles 48-50 give CSDs the right to have access to any other CSD,” he adds.

However, Tinworth, adds a more nuanced consideration: “It is not correct to say that T2S is intended to encourage CSDs to build links and to compete for cross-border business. T2S is actually encouraging CSDs to build only one link between CSDs – itself. In any event, the Commission has said that it is trying to ensure that the two initiatives are complementary. I can only find one exception in the regulation that is meant for T2S, however, and there are numerous requirements relating to “CSD links” that provide no exceptions for T2S. These may need to be given some further consideration.”

ECSDA also suggests the regulation would introduce new restrictions on the provision of cash and credit for the purpose of CSD settlement. While ECSDA supports the inclusion of strict safeguards in the ­regulation, “we wish to ensure that CSDs currently offering limited banking services can continue to do so in the future and that likewise, other CSDs are allowed to develop such services in response to market need. Limited banking services of CSDs are primarily used to provide liquidity to market participants on a fully collateralised basis and to facilitate settlement in foreign currencies”.

The EU counters, holding that: “The ­objectives of the proposed regulation are consistent with those of T2S, a project launched by the eurosystem to create a common technical platform to support CSDs in providing borderless securities ­settlement services in Europe. The two ­initiatives are complementary: the proposed regulation harmonises legal aspects of ­securities settlement and the rules for CSDs at European level, allowing T2S, which ­harmonises operational aspects of securities settlement, to achieve its goals more effectively”.

Outsource to T2S

Under the scheme national CSDs will outsource part of their role to T2S, which will be operated by the European Central Bank (ECB) and four national central banks (from France, Italy, Germany and Spain); though they will still have some important functions. As Richard Turrell, global head of product at BNP Paribas Securities Services explains, “T2S is not a record keeper; that function will still sit with the CSDs, but the core function of delivery versus payment will be provided by T2S.”

T2S itself is at a critical point, says Turrell, who explains that there is a financial incentive package in place for CSDs signing on by April 2012 for the first wave of adoption. This includes a waiver of the one-off entry fee, no fees for the first three months following the go-live date, from July to September 2015, and after that month, there will be a fee reduction by one-third for the whole price list until the end of the last regular migration wave.  

“CSDs deciding to sign the T2S Framework Agreement for adoption in April 2012 will benefit from reduced prices; then there is another round in June. After then there will be no financial incentives on offer and CSDs will have to sign up at full tariffs. It means that those CSDs that do sign up in either of the first two rounds will have a competitive advantage,” he states. However, he adds, that he thinks that some CSDs are still struggling with the T2S concept; and might not sign up straight away. “It depends on the way that CSDs will manage this interim period and accommodate their business models to suit the new regime,” adds Turrell. “It involves reviews of their coding practices and the way, for instance, that they will decommission their architecture.”

Richard TurrellRichard Turrell, global head of product at BNP Paribas Securities ServicesThe European Central Bank, in an official release, notes that this early bird package is justified because adopters will encounter “teething problems” and will likely need to support the testing activities of CSDs that migrate later. If a CSD signs by June 2012, it will still benefit from the one-off waiver but will not receive other incentives. “The Programme Office is very confident that the CSDs and their markets have understood the benefits of the project and that they need to participate,” the ECB wrote in a recent project update.

Separately, ECSDA is also concerned with limits on competitiveness and says the ­regulation would prevent CSDs from owning and operating subsidiaries offering non-CSD services. Such a measure would force a number of existing CSDs to overhaul their corporate structures, but it is far from certain that these changes will enhance market safety.

In the light of these limitations, however, Belghazi underscores that the association welcomes the proposal, “as a good basis for discussion. We trust that the European legislator will work to improve the current text in a way which allows CSDs to further contribute to enhance the safety, efficiency and transparency of Europe’s financial markets.”

In the short term, the proposed regulation is likely to create more competition between CSDs, with expected benefits for the quality and price of cross-border services. In the medium to long term, the CSD market could become more consolidated and less fragmented. There could be less intermediation for cross-border holding of securities and CSD services, and cross-border settlement will become safer and cheaper. This would translate into lower costs for investors along the whole post trading chain. The expected reduction in the costs of holding and settling securities, especially cross-border, would benefit both issuers, by increasing their ability to raise capital, and investors, by allowing them to place their funds more efficiently. The ­securities market in the EU would therefore become more efficient in supporting the financing of the economy and ­sustainable growth. SMEs, in particular, would benefit from the expected cost reductions since the fees charged by CSDs for the issuance and custody of their ­securities are often proportionally higher than for larger companies.

However, markets will require further clarity on the scope of the regulation and the way that it dovetails into parallel directives and rules governing the trading markets, such as EMIR and MiFID. Questions are still extant on whether CSDs may be subject to the rules of MiFID for certain services they provide, such as the provision of securities accounts and, possibly, collateral management services. It remains for the European Parliament, the EC and member states to clarify, in the context of the current review of MiFID, whether, similarly to banks, CSDs should be exempted from certain rules of MiFID or not.

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