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LME appoints consultancy to review chaotic nickel suspension

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the London Metal Exchange

By Pratima Desai

LONDON (Reuters) -The London Metal Exchange said on Thursday it had appointed management consultants Oliver Wyman to carry out an independent review of the events that led to a week-long suspension of nickel trading in March.

The world's largest and oldest forum for metals was forced to halt the nickel market and cancel all trades on March 8 after prices spiked more than 50% to hit a record above $100,000 a tonne in a few hours. Nickel trading resumed on March 16 when the exchange introduced daily price limits.

Oliver Wyman, which advises clients on how to improve their operations, will carry out the review expected to run until December and aim to publish a report at the end of the process.

The review will look at the factors that "contributed to market conditions ... in the period leading up to, and including, 8 March 2022 and make recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar events occurring," the exchange said in a statement.

"The assessment will not cover the decision-making processes and governance arrangements at the LME and at its clearing house, LME Clear."

Decision-making and governance will be a part of the regulatory reviews to be undertaken by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England (BoE).

The FCA regulates the trading activities of the LME as a UK Recognised Investment Exchange and the BoE regulates the clearing activities of LME Clear as a Recognised UK Central Counterparty.

Suspending and cancelling nickel trades drew the ire of producers and traders who rely on LME prices of the metal used to make stainless steel and electric vehicle batteries. It has also left the exchange vulnerable to lawsuits.

U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates and Jane Street Global Trading are suing the LME for $456 million and $15.3 million respectively for cancelled nickel trades.

The nickel price surge was blamed on short-covering by one of the world's top nickel producers, China's Tsingshan Holding Group. The LME has said the large short positions originated primarily from the over-the-counter (OTC) market.

Last week the LME, owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, approved rules for members to report all OTC positions from July 18 and said it would require holders of large OTC positions to explain the rationale behind them.

(Reporting by Pratima Desai; additional reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by John Stonestreet, Barbara Lewis and David Evans)

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