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Amsterdam attracts trading platforms for post-Brexit base

By John Geddie

LONDON (Reuters) - Amsterdam, with some of the world's fastest data links and a history of high-frequency trading, on Thursday reaffirmed its allure to financial market platforms looking for a post-Brexit base in Europe when Tradeweb said it would move to the city.

Many banks and insurers have gone public with plans to ensure unfettered access to European markets as Britain prepares to leave the bloc. But Tradeweb became just the second trading venue alongside MarketAxess to show its hand.

Both chose the Dutch city, which may also end up being a home of the largest European stock exchange by value of shares traded, Bats Europe.

"We chose Amsterdam as the base ... due to several different criteria, including regulatory, logistical and financial considerations. Amsterdam scored high across all these areas," said Enrico Bruni, head of Europe and Asia business at Tradeweb, a bond and derivatives platform.

"For example, it benefits from an effective and leading regulator with a significant voice in the EU. We also looked at client location, office space, language and travel."

Tradeweb, in which Thomson Reuters has a stake, at present has a European operation only in London, which it says will remain after Brexit even as the Amsterdam office becomes the electronic trading hub for its EU-based clients.

Tradeweb has submitted an application with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) to establish a fully regulated entity within the EU, it said in an emailed statement.


Amsterdam's financial centre was badly damaged by the 2008 financial crisis, and it has struggled to persuade many banks to use it as an EU base after Brexit, with Frankfurt, Dublin and Luxembourg proving more competitive.

Japan's MUFG locates some of its European retail and corporate banking operations in Amsterdam, with the bank tipped to make the city its main EU hub after Brexit.

But the pitch from officials has been the city's connectivity, which has long attracted high-frequency traders such as Flow Traders Optiver and IMC.

With this ready-made customer base, trading platforms are being lured to the city credited with launching the world's first stock exchange in the 17th century.

Both Tradeweb and MarketAxess also cited the experience of regulatory authorities which are used to overseeing computerised, algorithmic trading.

Mark Hemsley, the CEO of Bats Europe, told Reuters that Amsterdam and Dublin are the lead contenders for its possible second office elsewhere in the EU.

For the foreign exchange industry, speed is also a top priority.

But even if currency dealers themselves go elsewhere after Brexit, a lot of their hardware may remain in London because of the high-speed sub-Atlantic cables linking the British capital to New York.

(Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Richard Balmforth)