SWX Swiss Block to launch in August with 11 firms on board

SWX Swiss Block to launch in August with 11 firms on board

SWX Europe has signed up 11 firms for the August launch of its non-displayed liquidity service for Swiss blue-chip equities, SWX Swiss Block.

The 11 firms are ABN AMRO Bank, Bank Vontobel, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Instinet Europe, Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, NYFIX International and UBS.

SWX CEO Lee Hodgkinson says he expects to have up to 30 firms connected to the platform by the end of the year. The 11 firms already signed up will gradually be going live throughout August, with three of them ready from the first of the month.

SWX Swiss Block has been designed to complement SWX Europe's existing public limit order book, helping market participants execute wholesale business in Swiss blue-chip stocks anonymously and in bulk with reduced market impact. Trades are cleared via SWX Europe's existing clearing and settlement infrastructure and the platform is powered by Nyfix Euro Millennium, the independent dark pool multilateral trading facility (MTF) that launched in March, initially covering UK-listed equities.

"We are excited to welcome these prestigious firms to SWX Swiss Block and believe that the service will offer our users significant benefits in terms of price improvement," says Hodgkinson. "SWX Europe is committed to engaging with its users and providing innovative services, and we are confident that the launch of SWX Swiss Block, along with our tariff reduction programme and the revitalisation of our technology, will fortify our position as the home market for Swiss equities trading."

George Andreadis, head of Advanced Execution Services (AES) Liquidity Strategy in Europe at Credit Suisse, says: "We welcome the imminent launch of SWX Swiss Block and look forward to offering our clients better execution performance by connecting to the platform through Credit Suisse's dark smart order router, Crossfinder+."

Richard Balarkas, CEO and President of Instinet Europe, says: "Linking our smart routing technology to SWX Swiss Block is perfectly aligned with our strategy of accessing all liquidity venues in order to deliver improved execution results to our clients. We welcome this new addition to Europe's increasingly innovative equity trading landscape."

SWX Swiss Block is the first of several exchange-backed dark pools expected to go live in the next 12 months. Nyse Euronext is teaming with HSBC and BNP Paribas to establish an electronic block trading platform for European listed stocks called Smartpool. Announced in October last year it was originally slated for a Q2 launch. It announced the selection of EuroCCP and LCH.Clearnet as clearing and settelement providers in May, and now expects to go live "after the summer".

In June the London Stock Exchange (LSE) said it would partner Lehman Brothers to launch an off-bourse, pan-European equities trading facility that combines a dark liquidity pool with algorithmic trading functionality. The MTF - called Baikal - is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2009, subject to regulatory approval.

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