EU watchdog fines 3 banks in bond pricing investigation

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Three banks have been fined 371 million euros ($ 451 million) by the European Commission for colluding to fix prices in the euro area government bond market.

Traders from Nomura, UBS and UniCredit operated a cartel in the primary and secondary eurozone government bond markets between 2007 and 2011, in violation of European antitrust law, the commission said Thursday.

Traders exchanged commercially sensitive information through discussion forums and coordinated on trading strategies, updating each other on prices and volumes offered in the run-up to bond auctions, the commission said.

“After carefully considering the contents of the decision, Nomura will consider all options, including an appeal,” Nomura said in a statement posted on its website, noting that it had previously set aside the 130 million euros. necessary to cover the fine and not expect this to have an impact on its results for the year ending March 2022.

UniCredit said it plans to appeal the decision, adding that the group “vigorously challenges the decision and maintains that the findings do not demonstrate any wrongdoing on UniCredit’s part.”

A spokesperson for UBS said the company took steps to improve its processes years ago and was considering appealing.

Nomura, UniCredit and UBS were just three of the seven banks the commission named in its decision Thursday. Bank of America, Natixis, RBS, which became NatWest Group in 2020, and WestLB, which became Portigon in 2012, have also been found guilty of violating the EU. antitrust rules by participating in the same cartel.

A source close to the commission said a bank was abandoned during the investigation.

The commission said NatWest was not fined for revealing the deal to the commission.

Bank of America and Natixis have also not been fined because their breaches fall outside the period of imposition of the fine. Portigon, meanwhile, did not generate enough revenue last year to qualify for a fine.

Thursday’s action was the result of an investigation opened in 2019 into the eight banks for possible collusion to fix prices in the euro area government bond market.


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