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Future Exchanges: Targeting the true enemy

"We don't like the word 'war', we prefer to call it 'competition'," says Jörg Franke, board member of Deutsche Börse, the holding company for the German futures exchange (Deutsche Terminbörse - DTB). He's referring to a belligerent comment back in March by Liffe chairman Daniel Hodson about the rivalry between the London financial futures exchange and its German counterpart.

Cooperation between the two exchanges is almost unthinkable after seven years of rivalry on the Bund contract. The DTB is creeping up to a 40% market share and for the past year has been making inroads of 2% a month, according to Franke. However, that didn't stop Werner Seifert, another Deutsche Börse board member, from impishly suggesting cooperation with Liffe in mid-June. He was speaking at a public conference in Frankfurt. Liffe's response was a typical British brush-off.

Franke, who has lived through the entire rivalry, would probably have chosen a more private moment to talk. He wasn't surprised at Liffe's lukewarm reaction "but it did embarrass them", he says.

Over the years, the battle between Liffe and DTB has been reinforced by the ideological struggle between open outcry and electronic trading. Liffe's decision last year to introduce electronic trading (if only for illiquid products) alongside its trademark open-outcry system may have been what tempted the thought of cooperation.

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