Fund groups challenge S&P over licences for second time

Calculating feesEuropean fund management bodies are trying to force S&P in Switzerland to end the fees it charges to investment firms for the use of Isinnumbers that are held within investment firm’s own databases and used to identify securities when they are traded. S&P is accused of exploiting its position as the sole National Numbering Agency for US securities to demand licences from firms that use Isins to trade a variety of US instruments, including equities and futures. Fund groups, including the European Fund and Asset Management Association (Efama), say charging for Isin licences is unlawful behaviour towards end users and they claim S&P is failing to adhere to globally applicable commitments. Efama and others first brought a case against S&P before the European Commission in 2008 on competition grounds because, as the only numbering agency, S&P alone can issue Isin codes for US securities. S&P had claimed intellectual property rights over Isins and Isin databases. The case resulted in S&P agreeing to end charging for Isins within European Union member states. Switzerland is outside of the European Union so Efama and the German fund association BVI, along with the UK-based Information Providers User Group and the Swiss Information Providers User Group, have launched a complaint in Switzerland with the relevant competition authority, the Wettbewerbskommission. Efama says the previous commitment by S&P to end fees in the EU – which became effective on Sunday – will save financial services firms about $100 million (€76.4 million) per annum in Isin license fees going forward. S&P had not responded by deadline. ©2012 funds europe

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