U.K. Regulator Probes Bats Europe’s Exchange-License Plan

U.K. antitrust regulators began studying Bats Chi-X Europe’s plans to register as an exchange and invited rivals and customers to comment.

Bats Chi-X wants to be the first European alternative trading system to become a recognized investment exchange, or RIE, in a renewed challenge to traditional venues such as Deutsche Boerse AG, NYSE Euronext and London Stock Exchange Group Plc. The Office of Fair Trading will decide whether the switch would hurt competition, according to a statement on the regulator’s website today.

“A review of our RIE submission by the OFT is part of the standard application process,” Mark Hemsley, chief executive officer of Bats Chi-X Europe, said in an e-mailed statement. “We look forward to working closely with the OFT to complete the assessment.”

The London-based company, currently deemed a Multilateral Trading Facility, is seeking the license to attract business from retail investors and fund managers who may be legally restricted to trading on an exchange. It would also mean firms could choose to list their shares on Bats Chi-X Europe.

The move would make Bats Chi-X Europe the third exchange in the U.K., after LSE, Europe’s oldest independent bourse, and ICAP Plc’s Securities & Derivatives Exchange. Bats Europe is one of a wave of alternative trading systems that opened after European Union regulations introduced in 2007 opened the door to competition with incumbent bourses.