January 19, 2015 / 12:25 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Derivatives watchdogs expected to agree swaps rules reprieve

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By Michelle Price

HONG KONG, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Derivatives watchdogs are expected to agree a new timeline for the introduction of margin requirements for swaps transactions after strong resistance from the international banking industry, Europe’s top securities regulator said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Asia Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Monday, Steven Maijoor, chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority, told Reuters the European regulator hopes to agree a new timeline for introducing margin requirements for privately-traded derivatives in the coming weeks.

An extension to the agreed December 2015 deadline would mark a reprieve for global banks, which have said there is not enough time to do the operational and legal work necessary to implement the post-crisis rules that may add $800 billion to the global financial industry’s cost of doing business.

“We understand as a European regulator that we need to look into that time schedule. I cannot at this stage say anything definitive but it’s high on our agenda to look at this new timeline. As a regulator it’s important to have clarity on this deadline, just like market participants want to have clarity on this deadline,” Maijoor said.

Reuters reported in August that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), which represents the over-the-counter derivatives market, had written to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), requesting a delay to rules that aim to make trading OTC derivatives safer.

Maijoor said regulators are discussing the timeline within IOSCO, adding it was unclear at this stage if they will agree a new timeline for all or just some margin requirements. “That is part of the ... discussions and we hope within the first quarter of this year we’d get clarity on this,” he added.

After the global financial crisis, regulators pledged to make trading OTC derivatives safer by pushing them through clearing houses, which sit in between a trade to guarantee payment should a counterparty default.

However, around $127 trillion of the global $600 trillion OTC derivatives market are too complex to be cleared, ISDA estimates. New guidelines outlined by BCBS-IOSCO in September 2013 aim to reduce the risk of non-cleared trades by requiring banks to take margin from a counterparty.

Keith Noyes, regional director, Asia Pacific, at ISDA, said it would be “supportive of a revised timeline” which would allow banks to transition to the new rules “in a safe and efficient way that minimises market disruption.”

Reporting by Michelle Price, editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans

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