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Trades system delayed to allow for business process harmonisation

Nick Huber
An ambitious project to consolidate the IT systems at the heart of a multibillion-pound settlement system has been delayed to allow business process harmonisation.

Euroclear, formed in 2002 by the merger of Brussels-based settlement house Euroclear and the Crest settlement service, originally intended to develop a single trade settlement engine by 2005.

The system would give European customers a single service for settling trades and help cut the cost of cross-border trades by 90%, according to Euroclear.

However, Euroclear has delayed the planned go-live date for the single settlement engine until 2006.

The decision is a response to a series of industry reports published after the project's announcement in 2002, which recommended that market practices should be harmonised before IT systems are deployed.

"We took the view that it would be wiser and more beneficial for all concerned to take account of the progress we believe will be made in harmonising market practices while we continue our work on the single settlement engine, even if this means delaying our original timetable by up to 12 months," said Wim Claeys, managing director and head of the single platform implementation division at Euroclear.

The project will cost £69m and integrate the infrastructure from four separate settlement systems - the Euroclear bank and three national depositories of the UK, France and the Netherlands - in to the Euroclear Group.

All four institutions will replace their back-office systems and migrate to the new settlement system, which will handle up to one million transactions a day.

Presently, market firms have to send payments to 15 separate settlement systems across Europe to complete deals. Euroclear estimated that a single integrated settlement system would save its clients about £240m a year in reduced risk and settlement costs.

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