JSE Clear gets approval from European regulator ESMA

In a step forward for derivatives, clearing and settlement in Africa, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has recognized JSE Clear, the derivative central counterparty (CCP) owned by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Stephen Maijoor, Chairman of ESMA’s Board of Supervisors, says in a letter to the JSE: “JSE Clear is recognized as a third country CCP under Title III of Chapter 4 of EMIR.”

This means that the European Union’s regulator recognizes JSE Clear as “equivalent” to CCPs in the EU.

The JSE and the Financial Services Board (FSB) worked together closely to obtain EU recognition, says Leila Fourie, Executive Director of the JSE. JSE Clear’s process to securing ESMA recognition was undertaken in conjunction with the FSB, and successfully finished 2 pieces of work:
• Obtain decision from the EU recognizing that South Africa’s legal framework and supervisory practices are equivalent to those contemplated within the EU regulations
• Obtain EU acknowledgement of the appropriateness of our CCP design and risk management processes in terms of the functioning of the market it is meant to serve.

Fourie commented in a press release on 1 Feb: “This achievement is hugely important for the JSE, our regulator the FSB and participants in South Africa’s financial markets. Today’s announcement means that EU-based market participants that clear trades through JSE Clear will be permitted to continue clearing for investors trading on the JSE.”

JSE Clear is required to apply for recognition by ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority), as a result of the fact that the CCP has Clearing Members that are either branches or subsidiaries of European registered entities.

Fourie added: “ESMA recognition strengthens our global credibility and fulfils a key requirement for multinational clearing members operating in the local market. Participation from these multinationals helps to distribute the credit, liquidity, operational and legal risk on our market – instead of concentrating this risk in a smaller number of clearing members.”

Central counterparty - graphic from www.economist.com

Central counterparty – graphic from www.economist.com

SA rules are globally relevant
“It is vital for South Africa that its rules are globally relevant and consistent with financial centers such as the EU. This milestone demonstrates that our CCP is robust and meets global standards in promoting financial stability and reducing systemic risk. The recognition of equivalence is a significant indicator of the rigidity of SA’s market infrastructures, and will aid in attracting international flows to our emerging market.

“The JSE is grateful to the FSB for their contribution in obtaining this major milestone for JSE Clear and the South African markets.”

“Clearing” denotes all “post-trade” activities from the time a securities transaction is executed until it is settled. A CCP is an organization that helps to reduce risk and safeguard against losses that could be incurred by a default of a trading participant when trading on the JSE’s markets.

JSE Clear was among the first in the world to be granted QCCP IOSCO status, i.e. marking it out as a “qualifying” CCP in terms established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in July 2012. CPSS-IOSCO is a global standard for risk management aimed at any organization enabling the clearing, settlement and recording of a transaction.

The decision from ESMA follows earlier equivalence determinations for CCPs in Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

The JSE is one of the top 20 exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalization and is a member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) and Association of Futures Markets (AFM). The JSE offers a fully electronic, efficient, secure market with world class regulation, trading and clearing systems, settlement assurance and risk management.

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