ESMA

ESMA Issues Report on Distributed Ledger Technology

 

On February 7, 2017, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA“) published a report regarding distributed ledger technology (“DLT“).

DLT is a developing technology that has the potential to significantly alter and bring a number of benefits to securities markets. These benefits include, among others, enhanced efficiency in post‑trade processes, enhanced reporting and reduced costs. With these prospective benefits, however, come potential risks and legal questions.

ESMA has therefore issued a report that summarizes its position on DLT, with a note that it will continue to monitor this dynamic technology and consider whether a regulatory response may become a necessity.

The full report is available here.

ESMA Publishes Guide on Major Holdings Notifications

 

On February 3, 2017, a guide was published by ESMA that looked at major holdings notifications under the Transparency Directive. The Transparency Directive established a minimum level of information that needed to be provided to the public in relation to securities across the EU, and the recently issued guide discusses requirements that vary from country to country within the EEA and will assist readers in establishing the different requirements.

The guide, which is available here, summarizes the national requirements in relation to making and publishing notifications of major holdings.

ESMA Publishes Opinion on the Effect of Excluding Fund Managers From the Scope of MiFIR Intervention Powers

 

On January 12, 2017, the ESMA published an opinion on the impact of exclusion of fund management from the entire scope of MiFIR (Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation) (Regulation 600/2014).

Although, under Articles 40 and 42 of MiFIR, the ESMA and other NCAs (national competent authorities) can prohibit and restrict the sale, marketing and/or distribution of specific financial instruments or shares in Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), this power applies only to credit institutions and MiFID firms and excludes from its scope any alternative investment fund managers that might be authorized under the AIFM Directive (2011/61/EU) or to UCITS management companies so authorized under the UCITS IV Directive (2009/65/EC).

The ESMA has commented with the opinion that the intervention powers within MiFIR may create arbitrage situations between fund management companies themselves, as well as between fund management companies and MiFID firms. It has also stated that both the ESMA and relevant NCAs should be given the power to apply the restrictions under MiFIR directly to fund management companies.

ESMA Publishes New Methodology for Mandatory Peer Reviews of CCPS Authorization and Supervision Under EMIR

 

On January 5, 2017, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA“) published its methodology (ESMA71-1154262120-155) for mandatory peer reviews relating to the authorization and supervision of central counterparties (“CCPs“) under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (“EMIR“) (the Regulation on OTC derivative transactions, CCPs and trade repositories (Regulation 648/2012)).

The scope of peer reviews under EMIR is defined, and ESMA has a specific role to further supervisory cooperation. Based on the experience of the first peer review undertaken in 2016 in the context of EMIR, ESMA’s Board of Supervisors decided that a methodology for the new type of peer reviews should build on the existing methodology. Further reviews will be conducted on, at least, a yearly basis.

The methodology sets out information relating to the legal basis and scope of the review, the topics covered, the assessment specifications and the approach taken to the questionnaire and report.

The application of the methodology will be restricted to peer reviews undertaken in the application of Article 26 of EMIR. This scope may be reconsidered by ESMA at a later date, when the mandatory peer reviews relating to other EU legislation need to be launched (for example, in relation to the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (2011/61/EU) and the Regulation on improving securities settlement and regulating central securities depositories (Regulation 909/2014)).

ESMA Consultation on Consolidated Tape for Non Equity Products RTS Under MiFID II: Responses

 

On December 8, 2016, ESMA published the responses it has received to its consultation on draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) specifying the scope of the consolidated tape for non‑equity financial instruments under Article 65(8)(c) of the MiFID II Directive (2014/65/EU).

Respondents include:

  • The Investment Association;
  • International Capital Market Association;
  • Wholesale Markets Brokers’ Association (WMBA)
  • Association française des investisseurs institutionnels; and
  • Deutsche Börse Group.

ESMA will use the feedback it receives to finalize the draft RTS, which will be submitted to the Commission for endorsement. The date of application of MiFID II Directive and MiFIR is January 3, 2018.

European Commission Adopts Delegated Regulation on RTS on Criteria for Establishing When an Activity Is Considered to Be Ancillary to the Main Business

 

The European Commission adopted, on December 1, 2016, a Delegated Regulation supplementing the MiFID II Directive (2014/65/EU) in relation to regulatory technical standards (“RTS“) on the criteria for establishing when an activity is considered to be ancillary to a firm’s main business (C(2016) 7643 final).

The MiFID II Directive exempts persons dealing on their own account, or providing investment services to clients, in commodity derivatives and emission allowances, provided that activity is ancillary to their main business and their main business is not the provision of investment services or banking activities. Article 2(4) of the MiFID II Directive gives the Commission power to adopt RTS specifying the criteria for establishing when an activity is to be considered ancillary to the main business of a group.

ESMA submitted draft RTS to the Commission in September 2015. The Commission notified ESMA in April 2016 that it intended to endorse the draft RTS, subject to several amendments being made. In May 2016, ESMA submitted a formal opinion and a revised draft of the RTS to the Commission.

It is now for the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to consider the Delegated Regulation. Should neither of them object, it will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ) and will apply from January 3, 2018.

ESMA Issues Final Guidelines on Inside Information and Commodity Derivatives under MAR

On September 30, 2016, the European Securities Markets Authority (“ESMA“) published final guidelines (ESMA/2016/1412) on information relating to commodity derivatives disclosable under the Market Abuse Regulation (Regulation 596/2014) (“MAR“).

Article 7(5) of MAR requires ESMA to issue guidelines to establish a non-exhaustive list of information that is reasonably expected or required to be disclosed in accordance with legal or regulatory provisions in EU or national law, market rules, contract, practice or custom, on the relevant commodity markets or spot markets.

ESMA expects market participants, investors and regulators to take the list of examples provided in the guidelines into account when assessing whether information is “inside” information. It should be noted that other conditions of the definition not covered by the new guidelines should also be taken into account.

ESMA also explains that the guidelines do not create any further information disclosure requirements, as the concept of “required to be disclosed” refers to existing or future disclosure requirements (such as, under national law), independent of the guidelines.

National competent authorities (“NCAs“) have two months from the issuance of the different language versions of the guidelines to confirm whether or not they intend to comply with them. If a NCA does not comply or does not intend to comply, it will have to inform ESMA, stating its reasons.

ESMA consulted on the guidelines in March 2016 (ESMA/2016/444).

ESMA Consults on SFT Regulation and Amendments to EMIR RTS

On September 30, 2016, ESMA published a consultation paper (ESMA/2016/1409) on draft regulatory technical standards (“RTS“) and draft implementing technical standards (“ITS“) implementing the Regulation on reporting and transparency of securities financing transactions ((EU) 2015/2365) (the “SFT Regulation“).

The SFT Regulation will require market participants to report details of securities financing transactions (“SFTs“) to an approved EU trade repository (“TR“). The main issues addressed are:

  • RTS and ITS procedure and criteria for registration as a TR;
  • RTS and ITS on the use of internationally agreed reporting standards, the reporting logic and main aspects of the structure and content of SFT reports;
  • RTS requirements relating to transparency of data, data collection, aggregation and comparison; and
  • RTS on access levels for different competent authorities.

ESMA also proposes amendments to existing technical standards implementing requirements relating to TRs under the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (“EMIR“). ESMA states that the amendments are needed to ensure a level playing field for market participants in respect of registration and access rules. ESMA is consulting on the following:

  • consolidated amended text of RTS on registration of TRs under EMIR; and
  • amendments to RTS on access levels under EMIR.

The consultation will close on November 30, 2016. ESMA will use the feedback it receives to finalize its draft technical standards, which are to be submitted to the European Commission for endorsement by the end of Q1 or beginning of Q2 2017. It is expected that the finalized implementing measures will become applicable from 2018.

ESMA Updates Q&A on Application of UCITS Directive

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published an updated version of its Q&A paper on the application of the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) Directive (2009/65/EC) as most recently revised by UCITS V (2014/91/EU).  The purpose of the Q&A is to promote common supervisory approaches and practices in the application of the UCITS and its implementing measures.  The most recent updates reflect a Q&A relating to the valuation of OTC derivatives and are highlighted in yellow in the paper.

The latest version of the Q&A is available here.

ESMA Consultation on Validation and Review of Credit Rating Agencies’ Methodologies

On July 13, 2016 the European Securities and Markets Authority published a new consultation paper relating to Credit Rating Agency methodologies. This follows on from a discussion paper published on November 17, 2015 and an open hearing on January 25, 2016.

The consultation and review is based around CRA’s application of Articles 8(3) and 8(5) of the CRA regulation and articles 7 and 8 of the Regulatory Technical Standards. ESMA believes that publication of official guidelines will help to ensure the consistent application of validation and review measures for demonstrating the discriminatory power, predictive power and historical robustness of methodologies.

The consultation will be open for 5 weeks, and ESMA aims to finalize the proposed guidelines and publish a final report in Q1 2017.