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10-07-2012 23:15:00

EBS Begins Steps To Remove 'Disruptive' Traders

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New trading rules implemented Tuesday by electronic foreign-exchange trading platform EBS are just the first step toward booting "disruptive" traders from its market, Chief Executive Gil Mandelzis said Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the ICAP-owned (IAP.LN) platform outlined new rules requiring users to complete a certain proportion of their trades--a key push back against methods used by some high-speed trading accounts that have grated banks that make up a large portion of EBS volumes.

"We have had some concerns about disruptive actions in the markets, and we felt we wanted to make an unequivocal statement," Mandelzis told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. "We don't want to provide a market whereby being super fast gives you an advantage."

Following the rule changes announced Tuesday, EBS is planning to update its trading system, which could include a decision to drop the fifth decimal place in currency quotes, as well as minimum time requirements for holding a particular currency pair. The firm plans to send an initial list of the proposed changes to its clients by the end of this month and hopes to have the measures in place by late August or early September, Mr. Mandelzis said.

The firm also is looking at ways to enhance surveillance and enforcement, he said, with those measures likely sometime next year.

The update to its protocols comes as the first overhaul since 2008 for EBS. Mr. Mandelzis's comments come less than a year after he was named chief executive in a senior management shakeup that came amid flagging volumes.

In the overhaul, Mr. Mandelzis said he isn't looking to ban certain funds from the firm's trading system, nor the growing business of electronic traders. Instead, he is looking to force out strategies that attempt to move the prices of securities in a predatory way, or only make money by being first on a specific trade.

The move to counteract these type of traders is in stark contrast to some stock exchanges that had embraced a growing industry of firms that look to buy and sell securities in microseconds, or fractions of a second.

"High-frequency behaviors are also employed by some banks, while others on the buy side have standard buying and selling. We are aligning ourselves with genuine liquidity to prevent disruptive behavior. We are not for or against any type of entity," said Mr. Mandelzis, who said he hopes these and other measures will ensure there won't be a "flash crash" in foreign-exchange trading.

EBS also faces heightened competition from Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI, TRI.T). The EBS rival earlier this week announced plans to buy electronic currencies trading platform FX Alliance Inc. (FX) for $616 million, cranking up competition in the electronic currencies dealing space and suggesting the data provider is striving to get a bigger slice of the $4 trillion-a-day global currencies business.

Mr. Mandelzis said "it is not evident there will be any material effect on our business" from the FXall deal.

-Eva Szalay contributed to this article.

Write to Geoffrey Rogow at geoffrey.rogow@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 10, 2012 17:15 ET (21:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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