Liffe faces combined French and German assault

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The Independent Online
THE TOP futures and options exchanges on the Continent plan to join forces to give Liffe, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, a run for its money as Europe's leading derivatives market, writes Lisa Vaughan. An agreement announced yesterday between the Paris Matif and Frankfurt's DTB, Europe's second and third-largest exchanges, would give members of both access to each other's products.

Wilhelm Brandt of the DTB said: 'The agreement is not against Liffe, it is for European trading. We want to give investors a signal that we are pushing all the European liquidity into one market.'

Matif members will gain access to DTB's German government bond contracts, called Bunds, and medium-term government bond products, known as Bobls. DTB members will have access to Matif's ecu bond futures and options.

Liffe already trades a more successful Bund contract than the DTB, and is launching a Bobl contract next week.

Traders on Liffe said yesterday that the move looked like a defensive measure by DTB and Matif to shake London's lead.

But Liffe's new chief executive, Daniel Hodson, said: 'We believe its effect will be to enhance the markets and benefit the end-user, and that will benefit us.'