Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) must sell its Trayport unit to safeguard competition in wholesale energy trading, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA,) U.K.’s anti-trust watchdog said on Monday.
The software products of Trayport, which the Atlanta-based exchange bought Trayport for $650 million in ICE common stock from BGC Partners last year, form an integrated platform, which underpins around 85% of European utilities trading, the regulator said. ICE could use Trayport platform to reduce competition between itself and its rivals which could lead to increased fees for execution and clearing, and worse terms offered to traders, the CMA said.
The CMA’s panel of investigators “found that traders, and the brokers, exchanges and clearinghouses that compete with ICE in the trading and clearing of European utilities, depend on the Trayport platform to carry out these activities effectively,” the regulator said.
“Participants in this market have a high level of dependence on Trayport’s integrated software offering, alternatives are weak and barriers to entry in this market are high,” Simon Polito, chair of the inquiry, said. “Having looked at this in detail and sought views from a range of market participants, we believe that the only effective way to preserve competition is to require ICE to sell Trayport.”
The sale to a new owner will also be subject to approval by the CMA, it said.
ICE is considering appealing the decision, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing an unidentified spokesperson.
The CMA said in a provisional ruling in August that the merger could lead to a substantial lessening of competition. to which ICE responded saying it does not agree with the findings which “don’t align with ICE’s vision for continuing to operate Trayport as an open and autonomous software provider.”
The CMA said on Monday it had rejected “alternative remedial action proposed by the companies, concluding that it would not be effective.”
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