Derivatives practices eye up Liffe alliance

City derivatives lawyers are expected to see a flurry in work if Liffe's campaign to win back business by forming an alliance with European or US exchanges goes ahead.
Adam Ede, head of legal at Liffe – the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange – was unable to comment due to the sensitivity of the proposed deal.
Clifford Chance is the main external lawyer to Liffe, as well as the International Petroleum Exchange and the London Clearing House, which clears both markets' trades.
Clifford Chance partner Lynn Johansen says: “Alliances between exchanges can be seen as a potential to enhance the business for members as well as for the exchange itself.”
Simon Hall, Freshfields partner, claims Liffe has to link up with Europe in order to maintain its market-leading position.
But Robert Standing, managing director of Chase Manhattan bank says: “We would prefer to see a link with the US to enable two or three global exchanges competing rather than a European monopoly.”
Last month, Liffe received unanimous support from its membership to rationalise the share structure.
Marwan Al-Turki, Baker & McKenzie partner, assisted Chicago Board of Trade Clearing House when Liffe implemented its trading link with Chicago.
Turki says: “Liffe has been operating on a very antiquated system for some time. This new structure will enable Liffe to win back market share, which is good news for City lawyers.”
Paul Avanzato, a senior assistant in the structured finance group at Wilde Sapte, says the derivatives field is generally very lucrative for lawyers.
“The financial houses are keen to develop ever more complex derivatives, that inevitably results in a greater need for legal input,” says Avanzato.
“The alliance is a reaction to globalisation in financial markets, which is a corollary to consolidation in the banking industry,” he says.