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67/11 20 June 2011
The OFT today referred the anticipated acquisition by BATS Trading Limited of Chi-X Europe Limited to the Competition Commission for further investigation.
Both companies operate Multilateral Trading Facilities (MTFs) which enable market participants (investment banks, brokers and dealers) to trade pan-European equities through a single platform as an alternative to trading on national exchanges such as the London Stock Exchange (LSE). MTFs are relatively new, having mostly formed following the introduction of the European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive in 2007. Billions of pounds worth of equities are traded on these platforms daily.
After the LSE, the merger parties are the two largest MTFs for the trading of UK-listed equities. The merger reduces the number of significant suppliers of trading services for UK-listed equities from three to two. In addition the parties have very similar service offerings. Although the evidence is mixed, the OFT believes that there is a realistic prospect that, absent the merger, the parties would going forward have competed more strongly against each other, as well as competing against the LSE.
Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director and decision maker in this case said:
'This case is not one in which we have encountered widespread customer complaints. However, we cannot rule out the prospect that such a structural shift in the marketplace would lead to a substantial lessening of competition. We have therefore referred the merger to the Competition Commission for a more detailed investigation so it can determine whether a substantial lessening of competition is probable.'
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