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Lawmakers Should Leave Dark Pools Alone, U.K.’s Hoban Says

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The case for tougher regulation of dark pools is “often exaggerated,” U.K. Treasury minister Mark Hoban said as the European Commission readies an overhaul of market rules.

Dark pools suffer from a “slightly sinister name,” Hoban said at a finance conference in London today. He also said that a “one-size-fits-all approach” to market regulation won’t always work.

The commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is drafting measures as part of an overhaul of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or Mifid, which will also include rules on dark pools, bond markets, investor protection and high-frequency trading. The regulations have to be approved by the 27 EU member states before they can become law.

“Less than 2 percent of all equities trading is conducted entirely in the dark,” Hoban said. Dark pools have “an important role in liquid markets,” he added.

Dark pools are trading platforms that allow investors to buy and sell securities away from regulated exchanges so they don’t have to disclose positions.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Moshinsky in London at bmoshinsky@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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