October 14, 2003- U.S. Futures Exchange, L.L.C., the Chicago-based Eurex subsidiary, today is filing an antitrust action in federal court against the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) for illegally attempting to block the entrance of a new competitor to the market. The action charges the CBOT and the CME with having violated the Sherman Act by offering financial inducements, valued at over USD 100 million, to shareholders of The Clearing Corporation (TCC) to vote against a proposed restructuring of the company.
The CBOT and CME have collaborated to launch this offer despite having no legitimate interest in the outcome of the vote, but with the sole purpose of preserving CBOT's monopoly position, the lawsuit charges.
"We will improve the efficiency of the marketplace and promote growth for the entire industry," stated Michael McErlean, director of U.S. Futures Exchange. "With this action we want to reestablish a level playing field on which we can compete on the merits."
U.S. Futures Exchange, L.L.C. is seeking recognition as a designated contract market and has entered into an agreement with The Clearing Corporation to provide clearing services for the new exchange's customers.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges CBOT and CME with violations of the Sherman Act and with tortious interference with U.S. Futures Exchange's contracts and business opportunities. According to the lawsuit, the CBOT has offered a spurious justification that its offer is being made to ensure the timely transfer of open positions and accompanying guarantee funds to the CME. However, the transfer of positions will follow a plan previously implemented by rule changes adopted by the CBOT and the CME, pursuant to a special regulatory procedure. These rules, adopted this summer, were regarded by many market participants as an anticompetitive effort to preserve the CBOT's monopoly position in the Treasury Bond futures contract.
The suit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and treble damages as provided by federal antitrust law.
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Walter Allwicher/ Uwe Velte
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