EU watchdog sees shift in share trading from London as 'permanent change'

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The European Union’s securities watchdog suspects a post-Brexit shift in share trading to the bloc from Britain represents a permanent change after Amsterdam displaced London as Europe’s biggest share trading centre last month.

European Securities and Markets Authority Chair Steven Maijoor also said on Thursday that a recent surge in online share trading by retail investors highlighted a concern for ESMA that values on financial markets do not tally with the “grim economic situation” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stock exchanges in Amsterdam traded 9.2 billion euros ($11.15 billion) a day in January, compared with London’s 8.6 billion, according to the Cboe exchange, after the Dutch capital picked up a chunk of UK derivatives business.

“I would suspect that this is going to be a permanent change in terms of movement of trading from the UK to the EU ... We have seen that most of the trading has gone to Amsterdam,” Maijoor told an online conference on Thursday.

“The numbers are quite significant, at the same time we should realise that some of this trading is done by subsidiaries of UK market infrastructures, but we have also seen increased trading in Europe not linked to London trading venues.”

Maijoor said last week that EU regulators may intervene in the relation to retail trading that has been on the rise since the introduction of COVID-19 lockdowns, and long before the recent frenzied bout on Wall Street.

“(The recent surge) goes back to a bigger issue, bigger concern that we have as ESMA, the decoupling of the current values in the financial markets from the underlying economic situation,” Maijoor told the European Financial Forum.

“We see risks between the gap in the grim economic situation and current values that are basically in many asset classes above pre-COVID-19 levels.”

He also said on Thursday that the Reddit-fuelled rally that centred on U.S. video game retailer GameStop Corp may ultimately set back the EU’s aim to encourage more retail investors to participate in the capital markets.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alison Williams and Steve Orlofsky