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ISDA Says Pickel to Replace Voldstad as CEO of Swaps Group

Robert Pickel will replace Conrad Voldstad as the chief executive officer of the industry and lobbying group for banks and investors in the $601 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market.

Pickel, currently executive vice chairman, was executive director and CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association for almost nine years through November 2009. He will take over as CEO effective Jan. 1, according to a statement today from the New York-based group. Voldstad, the first head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s global swaps group, will serve as special adviser to the board, ISDA said.

“Connie and Bob work closely together anyway -- it’s not like ISDA’s getting a push from the dealers so they need to change their leadership,” said Kevin McPartland, director of fixed-income research in New York at Tabb Group, a research and advisory firm. “If that was the case, it wouldn’t be either of those two, it would be someone new.”

ISDA has drawn attention in recent weeks after it said the euro-area proposals for Greek bonds, in which bondholders take 50 percent losses on Greek debt, are “voluntary,” so likely wouldn’t trigger payouts under existing credit-default swap contracts. Fitch Ratings said the agreement would amount to a “default event” if implemented.

The industry group is navigating sweeping changes to the private derivatives market, including increased capital requirements and most trades being processed by clearinghouses, which require margin payments. The Dodd-Frank Act, passed in the U.S. last year, and rules being created by the European Parliament will regulate swaps for the first time in their 30-year history.


Under Voldstad, the 825-member association began a weekly “informal comment” called derivatiViews. Voldstad or Pickel wrote “most” of the posts, the latest of which was titled “The First Rule About CDS: Don’t Talk About CDS (Unless You’ve Read the Contract).”

Demands on ISDA grew after regulators blamed bets made with derivatives for exacerbating the financial crisis that pushed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy and almost toppled insurer American International Group Inc.

ISDA led the creation of new standards for credit-default swaps in April 2009 that allow clearing for the most actively traded contracts. It acts as secretary to a committee of dealers and investors that governs most of the $18 trillion in outstanding credit-swaps contracts on companies’ debt.

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