ICE says being asked to shift operations from London to continent

LONDON (Reuters) - The InterContinental Exchange ICE.N has been asked by several European Union countries whether it would move its clearing operations to the continent, the exchange's chief executive Jeff Sprecher said on Wednesday.

ICE, which has trading and clearing operations in London, has been approached by the Dutch, French and German governments, to shift clearing operations there, he said.

“Almost every major financial centre on the continent has approached my company to try to attract us to move infrastructure there and yet I have had actually little influence from the UK government trying to say can you bring more here or will you stay here?” Sprecher said.

Several EU policymakers want clearing of euro denominated transactions, dominated by London, to be based in the euro zone after Britain leaves the bloc.

Britain, however, has not asked ICE to stay in London, Sprecher said, though the country has a “strong hand” in negotiating new financial services trading terms with the EU.

“I think the UK should have a bit of swagger and not worry so much about the details,” Sprecher said.

He hoped that after the election in Britain, the country will have an industrial policy on how to attract business there, shifting to a “low tax”, business friendly economy after Brexit.

Michael Spencer, CEO of NEX Group, said most customers have chosen to clear in London and forcing them to shift to the continent would be “deeply bad” currency protectionism that fragments markets.

Reporting by Huw Jones, Editing by Kylie MacLellan