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March 19, 2013 11:30 pm
A new industry-backed project to develop a consolidated tape for European markets has foundered, with exchanges, banks and institutional investors unable to back the plan amid regulatory uncertainty.
The Coba project, founded by two former trading venue executives, was launched three months ago to create a tape of trade records for European markets. However on Wednesday it said it was suspending operations.
Backers for the creation of the tape – a log of the best bid, offer and execution prices from a host of exchanges and trading venues – say it is difficult to know whether the best deals are being achieved on behalf of the investing public without one.
Europe, unlike the US, has no unified system for price reporting but policymakers want one created into existence via new incoming legislation governing the region’s securities markets, known as Mifid. Take-up of various industry initiatives has been weak, with users complaining that the quality of information is poor and too expensive.
Fund managers, brokers and venues also frequently contest the ownership of data. European exchanges collectively earn more than €1bn a year from the provision of data, leading to regular complaints that the charges are excessive. Brussels has been concerned enough by the industry stand-off to threaten mandating financial markets – at its own cost – to provide a single public utility.
However policymakers have not endorsed any single initiative. Furthermore its final shape is still being debated in Brussels as the national states thrash out their position on Mifid.
“There was too much uncertainty and too much execution risk,” said Graham Dick, one of the co-founders.
An industry-wide survey by Coba also found divisions between various parts of the market. Coba said many exchanges were willing to adopt the proposed commercial model but were concerned with the risks related to the potential expansion of scope to include pre-trade data. Data vendors questioned whether there was sufficient user demand for post-trade only scope. Banks and brokers were keen to cut costs and rather than add to them, while institutional investors did not want to add extra costs.
“Having taken these positions into account, the Coba Project has concluded that there is insufficient support to pursue implementation as proposed,” it said in a statement. “The Coba Project has been suspended pending the consideration of alternative proposals.”
The Coba Project was co-founded by Mr Dick and Mark Schaedel, former global head of market data at NYSE Euronext.
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