EMCF, the pan-European clearing subsidiary of Fortis, is now 100% owned by the Dutch government following a further structural reshuffle at the troubled banking and insurance group. Management at EMCF has welcomed the move as improving the firm’s longer-term stability.
On 29 September, the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourgeois governments clubbed together to invest EUR 11.2 billion in Fortis, to recapitalise the cash-strapped bank. But on 3 October, the Dutch Ministry of Finance revealed it had decided instead to buy all the group’s Dutch units, including EMCF. Today, French bank BNP Paribas stepped in to acquire a majority stake in the group’s Belgium and Luxembourg operations.
Nationalisation, albeit for a limited period, would reassure EMCF’s clearing counterparties, according to Jan Booij, the unit’s managing director. “State ownership provides even more guarantee than there was in the past, so I think this is a very good development – not only for EMCF but also other parts of Fortis,” he told theTRADEnews.com.
The Dutch government’s ownership of the Fortis units is only temporary. The Dutch Ministry of Finance said in a statement that the businesses will be privatised once the international financial system has settled down. The ministry envisaged no changes to the operational management of the acquired institutions at this stage.
Following the initial rescue package by the three governments last week, rival pan-European clearing house EuroCCP emphasised its capacity to handle the trade volumes of EMCF clients Chi-X, Nasdaq OMX Europe and BATS Europe as well as its lack of exposure to the turmoil affecting global banks as a subsidiary of US clearing house DTCC.
But both Chi-X and Nasdaq OMX Europe indicated their intentions to stay with EMCF. BATS Europe declined to comment.