LatAm Exchange Alliance Updates Progress

Terry Flanagan

Improved routing and connectivity are among recent developments at Mercado Integrado Latinoamericano (Mila), the two-year-old alliance between the stock exchanges of Colombia, Chile, and Peru.

Mila representatives promoted their regional financial market in New York and Chicago this week, with help from Peru’s chief securities regulator and counterparts from Chile and Colombia. Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, which plans to join Mila next year, also sent executives to the briefings, which updates integration efforts and addressed market-structure challenges.

Technologies that help brokers connect and that route orders through exchange gateways are helping synergize the market, according to Jitendra Puri, technology chief of the Colombian Securities Exchange, and Andres Araya Falcone, CIO of Bolsa de Comercio de Santiago.

There remain legal challenges, such as enforcement of local rules handled separately in nations of Mila-member exchanges. Cross-border tax rules also complicate post-trade processing, and double-digit valuation declines in each of the regional indices so far in 2013 have dampened enthusiasm from international buyers.

The multi-currency aspect of operating Mila also remains a hurdle for some traders. Handling FX exposures to keep operational liquidity generally means implementing features into back-up systems, a technology aspect that keeps some investors at bay, representatives said in Chicago.

There are 563 companies listed on Mila with a total market capitalization of about U.S. $700 billion, second to Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa in the region. Mexico’s exchange is third-biggest.

Among other benefits, Mila was formed to help companies raise capital. Because each of the three markets is small by global standards, it has been hard for listed companies to attract global capital for expansion projects. “Issuers are looking for funding and demand in larger markets,” Puri said.

Colombia, Peru and Chile’s listed companies are from complementary industries such as airlines, textiles, mining and metals, retail, and construction , representatives noted.

Technology alliances have been created to connect integration gaps within Mila, as market data is different across individual trading venues. In one such partnership between SunGard and Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, SunGard sources market data directly from the exchange and the SunGard Global Network provides multi-asset order routing for institutional asset managers, hedge funds and broker-dealers.

Currently, exchange-to-exchange order routing is not allowed, but some say Mila may mitigate this. And, investors don’t give their money to local brokers in Latin America easily in cross-border trading – they need a custodian role in Latin America in order to do business, the Mila presenters said.

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