Icap to apply for exchange status
For years people have debated whether or not FX will move to an exchange. I was of the view that it would, but now I’m of the view that it won’t. So I was slightly shocked to hear that Icap is intending to apply to UK regulator the FSA for the status of a regulated market.
Does this mean, I thought, that the market’s migration would now happen through the back door? Had Michael Spencer, Icap’s chief executive, pulled a fast one by buying EBS on the cheap and seeing off the threat from more exchange-like entities, such as FXMarketSpace? Would EBS now become formally the FX exchange?
Actually, no. Icap believes that there are benefits to operating as an exchange in various rinky-dink products. FX isn’t one of these. And as the company’s stellar interim results showed, FX is clearly not broken, so why fix it? I won’t go on again about what a bargain Icap got when it bought EBS, but it clearly did. “Icap delivered outstanding results in busy markets during most of the first half to the year. Both electronic and voice-broking businesses felt the positive impact of these higher levels of activity and we benefited from the substantial operating leverage in the electronic business,” Spencer says in a press release.
EBS is fast becoming a shiny jewel in Icap’s crown. Traiana, the post-trade services provider, may yet prove another. The company made much of its potential in the results. “Post-trade services are an area where technology innovation is creating exciting new business opportunities for Icap, and the acquisition of Traiana will help us to capitalise on the significant growth in this area,” the company claims.