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ICE delays Singapore launch amid legal threat: FT newspaper

[SINGAPORE] Intercontinental Exchange Inc has pushed back the launch of its Singapore platform to the middle of the year from this month, with the Financial Times reporting that the delay was due to a Chinese bourse threatening legal action.

The Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange (ZCE) sent ICE a "cease and desist" letter in December, demanding that the US group halt its plans to launch cotton and sugar futures similar to those already traded on the ZCE, the Financial Times said on Tuesday.

China's regulator, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, also contacted the Monetary Authority of Singapore to ask the city-state's financial watchdog to ensure that such contracts were not launched, according to the newspaper.

ZCE threatened legal action if ICE did not drop its plan, the FT said, citing people familiar with the situation.

"We are now looking to launch ICE Futures Singapore in mid-2015," Claire Miller, spokeswoman for ICE, told Reuters. Futures contracts to be launched include gold, "mini-Brent"crude oil and renminbi, she said.

Atlanta-based ICE announced in December a plan to launch the three futures contracts plus cotton and white sugar this month. The plan followed its purchase of the Singapore Mercantile Exchange last year for US$150 million in a bid to gain a foothold in trading and clearing in Asia.

ICE already has a network of markets and clearing houses in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Britain and continental Europe.

Responding to the FT report, Ms Miller said: "Our customers have expressed an interest in being better able to manage their exposures in China." ZCE officials were not immediately available for comment.