The European Commission has found that Deutsche Börse subsidiary Clearstream infringed competition rules by refusing to supply cross-border securities clearing and settlement services to rival depository Euroclear and by applying discriminatory prices.
The ruling follows a lengthy investigation by the EC into monopoly abuse by Clearstream of its market position in German clearing and settlement. The Commission found that Clearstream took two years to provide Euroclear with access to certain clearing services that usually took months to implement, and charged a higher per transaction price to Euroclear Bank than to other securities depositories outside Germany.
Noting that the infringements have since come to an end, the Commission has stepped back from imposing a fine on Clearstream, stating that the current ruling will help clarify the legal position for other operators.
European regulators are also keen to stress that the findings have no bearing on ongoing market debates over the best models for implementing EU-wide clearing and settlement services. This pits proponents of loose horizontal integration against Deutsche Börse which favours tight integration of clearing and settlement with exchange-based execution services.
Competition Commissioner Mario Monti states: "We are aware that a discussion is being held amongst regulators, banks and securities depositories on which regulatory and business models should be adopted in the future. Today’s decision does not favour one particular model, it is not directed against Deutsche Börse’s business model or any other."