Technology investment drives profits down at CrestCo

Technology investment drives profits down at CrestCo

UK book entry depository CrestCo is reporting reduced pre-tax profits down at £12.3 million from £31.6 million in 2000, for its year-end results to 31 December 2001.

CrestCo's operating expenses were in line with the company's budget at £68.2 million (2000: £57.6 million). The total value of volume discounts offered to CrestCo's customers, in 2001 amounted to £12.4 million (2000: £ 11.7 million). Total revenues increased from £56 million in 2000, up to 62.2 million in 2001.

CrestCo settles UK, Irish and international securities through the Crest system, and money market instruments through the Central Money Markets Office (CMO). Owned by some 97 institutions and brokers (most of whom are also its largest customers), CrestCo's commercial profit motive is inevitably counterbalanced by the need to give value back to its customer shareholders.

In the chairman's statement, Sir Nigel Wickes pointed out that settlement volumes had remained high during the period, although with a marked swing in activity from retail to proprietary traders. Wickes explained CrestCo's slump in profits by highlighting the level of investment in new technology, which is intended to allow growth in capacity, greater choice of access options and the introduction of new services.

To support this increased investment, the company pointed to a number of key landmarks achieved during the financial year in question. In November 2001 the company delivered pure Delivery versus Payment (DVP), with the irrevocable transfer of central bank money simultaneously with full registered title to the securities in real time for all sterling and euro transactions.

In addition, on 26 February 2001 in co-operation with London Clearing House and the London Stock Exchange, CrestCo introduced a central counterparty service offering London markets post-trade anonymity.

Collectors of amazing statistics will be gratified to know that CrestCo's systems settle over 300,000 transactions a day, with a total value of around £500bn. While Crest's members hold a trifling £1.8 trillion (€2.9 trillion) of securities across the CREST systems. CREST itself settled 73.6 million transactions in 2001 (2000: 58.2 million), with a value of £59.9 trillion (2000: £48.8 trillion).

CrestCo's plans for 2002 and beyond include:
* the introduction of a settlement netting service;
* the introduction of new network providers to improve competition;
* the introduction of a new tariff to provide even greater transparency, and a new marginal settlement rate of only 10p for high volume users;
* the development of an electronic proxy voting service;
* the preparation for the migration of money market instruments in to Crest and the closure of the Central Money Markets Office in 2003; and continuing developments to CrestCo's international service.

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