US Futures Exchange, L.L.C., the Chicago-based Eurex subsidiary, is filing an antitrust action against the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).


The antitrust action is being filed against CBOT and the CME for allegedly illegally attempting to block the entrance of a new competitor to the market.


US Futures Exchange, L.L.C. is seeking recognition as a designated contract market and has entered into an agreement with The Clearing Corporation to provide clearing services for the new exchange's customers.


The action charges the CBOT and the CME with having violated the Sherman Act by offering financial inducements, valued at over USD 100 million, to shareholders of The Clearing Corporation (TCC) to vote against a proposed restructuring of the company.


Eurex stated: "The CBOT and CME have collaborated to launch this offer despite having no legitimate interest in the outcome of the vote, but with the sole purpose of preserving CBOT's monopoly position, the lawsuit charges."


Michael McErlean, Director of US Futures Exchange, said: "We will improve the efficiency of the marketplace and promote growth for the entire industry. With this action we want to reestablish a level playing field on which we can compete on the merits."


The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, charges CBOT and CME with violations of the Sherman Act and with tortuous interference with US Futures Exchange's contracts and business opportunities.


According to the lawsuit, the CBOT has offered a spurious justification that its offer is being made to ensure the timely transfer of open positions and accompanying guarantee funds to the CME. However, the transfer of positions will follow a plan previously implemented by rule changes adopted by the CBOT and the CME, pursuant to a special regulatory procedure.


Eurex stated: "These rules, adopted this summer, were regarded by many market participants as an anticompetitive effort to preserve the CBOT's monopoly position in the Treasury Bond futures contract."


The suit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and treble damages as provided by federal antitrust law.


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