COMPETITION : CFI CONFIRMS CLEARSTREAM'S ABUSE OF DOMINANT POSITION.

A second Clearstream case has just been wrapped up by the European judicial system. The Court of First Instance confirmed, on 9 September, Clearstream's abuse of dominant position, established in June 2004 by the European Commission in the area of cross-border clearing and settlement services (Case T-301/04). The Commission welcomed the ruling.

Clearstream International (CI) and its German subsidiary, Clearstream Banking AG (CBF), were accused by the Commission of having refused, from December 1999 to November 2001, to provide certain primary clearing and settlement services to Euroclear for securities issued in Germany and of applying discriminatory rules to the firm. CI and CBF were also accused of applying discriminatory prices from January 1997 to January 2002. CI and CBF challenged this decision before the Court of First Instance.

Since German legislation gives CBF a monopoly on issuing securities in Germany, it is also an inevitable player for post-transaction processing of securities transactions. Market operators like Euroclear that handle such securities often find it impossible to provide their own services if they cannot make use of CBF's services.

LOCKED OUT

CBF and CI locked Euroclear out of its computerised system for settlement management. CBF's arguments related to the specific arrangements sought by Clearstream failed to convince the CFI, which pointed out that the Luxembourg subsidiary of Clearstream, Euroclear's competitor in Europe as central international depository, had to wait only four months for identical services.

The applicants also argued that the Commission...

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