UK Banks to Face Competition Enquiry
On July 18, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)—the UK's competition regulator—moved a step closer towards opening a full enquiry into the UK retail banking sector with a particular focus on the personal current account and small and medium enterprises (SME) lending businesses.
At the same time as publishing two studies purporting to reveal a lack of effective competition and a failure to meet needs of personal consumers and SMEs, the CMA confirmed that it has provisionally decided to launch a full review of the sector, although the final decision will not be made until autumn 2014. To assist with that decision, the CMA wishes to hear the views of interested parties and has launched a consultation.
The outcome of any review could be recommendations that the UK's four largest banks—RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC—be forced to divest areas of their business. Consultation. Press release (with links to studies).
Council of EU Publishes Text of CSD Regulation
On July 16, the Council of the EU published the text of the proposed Regulation on improving securities settlement and central securities depositaries (CSDs) in advance of its formal adoption by the Council.
The CSD regulation, which was adopted by the European Parliament April 15, 2014, will create for the first time an EU-level authorization, supervision and regulatory framework for CSDs, and is designed to increase safety in the settlement system and open the market for securities settlement to improve efficiency.
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is currently drafting technical standards and guidelines for the CSD Regulation and will deliver these to the European Commission six months from its date of entry into force. Draft Regulation.
ESMA Launches Consultations on New Market Abuse Regime Under MAR
ESMA has published two consultation papers on the draft technical standards and the draft technical advice it is developing for the implementation of a new framework under the Market Abuse Regulation (Regulation 596/2014) (MAR).
The new MAR, which will expand and develop the existing EU market abuse regime and work in conjunction with the recently revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, was formally adopted by the Council of the EU on April 14, 2014, and published in the Official Journal of the EU on June 12, 2014.
Responses to the consultation will be used to finalize the technical standards and advice which are to be submitted within eight months of MAR coming into force. Consultation on draft technical advice. Consultation on draft technical standards.
Orrick Alert: Update on Russia-Ukraine Sanctions: Significant Expansion of Sanctions Presents Additional Compliance Challenges
On July 16, the United States announced another expansion of sanctions in response to events in southern and eastern Ukraine. The United States for the first time imposed sanctions against major Russian companies and banks – Gazprombank, Novatek, Rosneft, Vnesheconombank, which have been placed on a new Sectoral Sanctions Identification ("SSI") List. While SSI List sanctions are less far-reaching than standard "blocking" sanctions, they could represent a substantial challenge and complication for those doing business in and with Russia. To read Orrick's complete alert, please click here.