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Rate for the job: NYSE Euronext to take over scandal-hit Libor


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Rate for the job: NYSE Euronext to take over scandal-hit Libor

NYSE Euronext has won the contract for setting the London Inter-bank Offered Rate- or Libor.

The operator of the New York Stock Exchange and several European bourses was chosen by an independent British committee set up to appoint a replacement for the British Bankers’ Association.

The change is intended to restore Libor’s credibility. It follows a global scandal in which it was found that traders at several banks had been manipulating the rates.

They are used to calculate how much interest is paid on everything from complex investment derivatives to credit card bills.

Libor will continue to be regulated by Britain’s Financial Conduct
Authority (FCA) after the change in early 2014.

Not everyone was impressed by the choice. “We had a ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ issue here, and we should learn from that,” said Bart Chilton, a member of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulator.

Chilton added: “I firmly believe that having a truly neutral third-party administrator would be the best alternative, and I’m not sure that an exchange is the proper choice.”

British and US regulators have so far fined three banks – Barclays, UBS and RBS – a total of $2.6 billion (2.03 billion euros) and two men have been charged for manipulating Libor and similar benchmark rates. But more banks and individuals remain under investigation.

The US CFTC wants Libor scrapped and replaced with a reference rate based on actual market transactions, but Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA argues that a rapid transition to a transaction-only rate is not possible.

Meanwhile, Brussels is also seeking to take on powers held by national regulators. According to a proposed EU law, regulation of major benchmarks like Libor and oil indexes – also at the centre of rigging allegations – could be shifted from London to the Paris-based European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

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