CHICAGO (HedgeWorld.com)–The Chicago Board of Trade’s board of directors voted to enter into a licensing agreement with the LIFFE CONNECT electronic trading platform–a move that represents a formal severing of CBOT’s relations with Eurex, Hamburg, Germany.

LIFFE CONNECT is the trading platform of Eurex’s rival, Euronext.liffe, the derivatives business of the Euronext N.V. Group, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. LIFFE CONNECT will replace CBOT’s existing trading platform, a/c/e, upon the expiration of CBOT’s licensing agreement with the Eurex group at the end of 2003, the CBOT said in its statement Friday.

Meanwhile, and not coincidentally, Eurex announced Thursday that it plans to launch a registered U.S. exchange under U.S. regulation to list derivatives on U.S. interest rates, indexes and equities. It has been in advanced talks with American regulators and market participants to prepare such a launch, which it cannot schedule prior to January 2004 because the agreement that created a/c/e included a non-compete clause.

Breach Long in the Making

The a/c/e platform, which went live in August 2000, took its name from the phrase alliance/CBOT/Eurex.

The following January, Eurex’ parent company launched its initial public offering with a prospectus, which revealed that CBOT had decided not to share the costs in the next phase of a/c/e. This was widely seen as an indication that all was not harmonious among the parties to the alliance.

In July 2002, CBOT and Eurex agreed to restructure the a/c/e alliance, which before that had been slated to continue until October 2004. This liberated both parties to go their separate ways three quarters earlier.

“Our customers worldwide will be able to leverage their existing Eurex and a/c/e infrastructures to benefit from low cost open access to the full range of U.S. and European products,” said Rudolf Ferscha, chief executive of Eurex, in a statement Jan. 9. In a statement, the CBOT’s chief executive and president, Bernard W. Dan said that the decision to switch to the Euronext platform reflects his exchange’s determination to adapt to the changes currently underway in the futures industry.

“We must be able to integrate that change into our structure, and we must continue to be innovative in terms of products and markets,” he said. He also said that the change was not made easily. “This was an extremely difficult decision, and I would like to personally thank Eurex for their support through this process and throughout the remainder of the year.” Mr. Dan thanked Senior Vice president Mary McDonnell, as well. She headed a team that evaluated the competing trading platforms.

CFaille@HedgeWorld.com