28 Jun 2018

A brave new world - increased focus by antitrust regulators on primary and secondary market activities

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Services_Dispute_Resolution_Banking_financial_Services_RegulationIn the past, competition enforcement in the financial services sector focused mainly on the areas of State aid and merger control, before the swathe of manipulation of financial benchmarks (e.g. Libor, Euribor) and collusion in bid-ask spread cases, which were investigated by both financial and antitrust regulators. This was followed by a flurry of allegations and investigations by regulators across asset classes, including credit default swaps, interest rate derivatives, FX, precious metals and bonds. Interestingly, following a number of very recent cases in the UK, Spain, Japan, Mexico and Australia, there now appears to be a subtle shift in the focus of new antitrust investigations in the financial services sector, towards primary market activities and the trading off the back of such activities.

Banks, insurance companies, brokers and private equity houses are among those being advised to revisit their compliance programmes and practices in light of these recent developments, to ensure that they do not inadvertently fall foul of the competition rules. Especially given the frequency and importance of collaborations between competitors in the financial services sector, which makes this sector a focus for competition authorities worldwide keen to ensure that all such contacts are strictly limited to those permitted by competition law.

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Marta Isabel Garcia

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