CME Says It's About to Win 14-Year-Old Eurex Antitrust Lawsuit

(Bloomberg) -- CME Group Inc. says it’s poised to win a 14-year-old court case that alleges its anti-competitive behavior blocked a huge German exchange from getting a foothold in the U.S.

The judge, CME disclosed in its latest quarterly report, told litigants on April 27 that he “reached a preliminary decision” granting CME’s motion for summary judgment of the antitrust claim. The court “is expected to issue a written decision finalizing that decision and dismissing the entire case,” CME said. Court records show U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin decided the trial will no longer begin on June 4.

Deutsche Boerse AG, the Frankfurt-based owner of the Eurex exchange that never got traction in the U.S., declined to comment.

The case centers on whether CME Group and the Chicago Board of Trade, which CME later acquired, colluded to weaken Eurex’s new U.S. market, in part by leveraging their influence in Washington.

Eurex argues it was hobbled when the Chicago Board of Trade transferred its derivatives contracts from the clearinghouse it had relied on to the one CME owned. Eurex wanted to use the same clearinghouse as CBOT. There was also a delay in regulatory approval, which Eurex said was damaging. CME, which faces damages estimated around $1.5 billion, argues Eurex alone deserves the blame for its lack of success.

Eurex wanted to dislodge CBOT’s dominant U.S. Treasury futures business. It didn’t happen. That was one of the crown jewels CME picked up in its 2007 purchase of CBOT. The Eurex market, called the U.S. Futures Exchange, closed in 2008.

The case is U.S. Futures Exchange LLC v. Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, 1:04-cv-06756, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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