ICSD row threatens European collateral
of collateral in Europe could be severely hindered by derivatives market Eurex’s
desire to maintain its monopoly in trading and clearing certain baskets of
tri-party repo instruments.
in question – GC Pooling baskets – contain tri-party repo instruments including
various high-quality fixed income products, like sovereign bonds, and are used
by banks to switch these assets into cash and vice versa.
The basket is a
popular and efficient tool that will allow banks to easily access cash, which will
be an important source of collateral underpinning OTC derivatives transactions
that will soon be centrally cleared under the European market infrastructure
Under the incoming
rules buy-side firms will be required to post initial and variation margin –
the latter of which can only be paid in cash – against their swaps exposures. Investment
institutions will look to clearing brokers to meet margin requirements on their
behalf, which necessitates smooth transfer of collateral.
baskets are currently traded and cleared through Eurex but only the assets held
by Clearstream, the international central securities depository (ICSD) owned by
Eurex’s parent firm Deutsche Börse Group, can be used for these transactions.
Although a link
between Clearstream and rival ICSD Euroclear does exist, costly enhancements
will be needed to facilitate GC Pooling basket trades. While Eurex initially
appeared willing to invest in these developments, progress looks to have
At a recent meeting
between the European Repo Council (ERC) and the European Association of
Clearing Houses (EACH), Eurex indicated it sees no business case in further
developing the ICSD connection.
“This move by EACH, which
represents several fixed income CCPs in Europe, is counterproductive and
goes against the regulatory aims of OTC derivatives reform,” said Godfried De
Vidts, chair of the International Capital Market Association’s European Repo
Committee. “ICSD interoperability in tri-party will enable cash and bonds to
flow through the system very easily and the ERC has pushed for this for many
years. The reluctance by EACH members to facilitate access by the community to
a wider range of collateral is a real pity for the market.”
A link between
Clearstream and Euroclear would allow collateral held by banks in either ICSD
to be used for GC Pooling basket trades. But fully connecting the two entities
is likely to be a complex task given the separate systems and protocols used by
each. Banks that are already engaged in costly post-trade connectivity projects
ahead of the new swaps rules have indicated that they would be unwilling to
fund a link themselves.
According to Marcus Zickwolff,
chairman of EACH and head of trading and clearing systems design at Eurex, the
CCPs have declared their willingness to assess the implementation of such a
“The debate is now centred on
technicalities,” said Zickwolff, referring to difficulties in enhancing the
Euroclear-Clearstream link related to the timing of collateral delivery.
“However CCPs need to take care of financing the project and can only implement
solutions, which are commercially useful for all involved parties.”