By disregarding new requirements, Canadian companies risk unnecessary selling in Frankfurt and elsewhere in Europe.
A little-known legal requirement threatens Canadian companies trading in Europe. But it’s a threat that’s easily avoided. Beginning January 3, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will require all companies trading in the continent to have a 20-digit alpha-numeric code called a Legal Entity Identifier. Companies that don’t could be delisted. Companies that don’t apply for an LEI could face a pre-delisting sell-off by European investors.
As the deadline approaches, a surprising number of companies on this side of the pond remain unaware of the requirement. Yet the LEI can be obtained easily. Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZCpresident Dave Hodge encourages companies to act promptly.
“Zimtu Capital is proud to be one of the leaders in bringing Canadian companies to European markets,” he says. “By getting their LEIs, companies demonstrate commitment to their European shareholders.”
LEIs can be acquired online through an allocating agency such as WM-Leiportal in Germany. No such agencies exist in Canada yet. WM-Leiportal’s English-language online registration takes about 30 minutes. The fee currently comes to an initial €80, with a €70 annual renewal charge. The LEI normally arrives within days of payment being received.
The procedure’s not difficult. Even so, some dual-listed companies have encountered challenges. Having already walked several applicants through the process, Zimtu’s Shaun Ledding compiled a free step-by-step guide available from email@example.com.
As an internationally standardized ID for market participants, the LEI was established by the Financial Stability Board, a Basel, Switzerland-based regulatory committee, on behalf of the G20 in response to the 2008 crisis. Entities such as companies, banks and investment funds use the LEI to comply with a number of financial reporting requirements.
According to the Deutsche Bӧrse Group, “The LEI will clearly assist the regulatory authorities in monitoring and analyzing threats to the stability of the financial markets, [but] it can also be utilized by counterparties internally for risk management purposes.”
The ESMA notes that LEIs are also “required or are in the process of being implemented by other regulators, including those in the U.S., Canada and Asia-Pacific.” Last month the ESMA stated it “expects all relevant trading venues and investment firms to comply with the MiFID II requirements on LEIs ahead of the implementation of the new regime on 3 January 2018.”
“Failure to have an LEI number could result in delisting in Germany and denying Germans the ability to trade a company’s shares,” Ledding points out. Adding that investors can check a company’s LEI status online, he warns: “Companies that do not address this could create a situation of risk for shareholders in Germany, prompting them to sell their shares.”
For a copy of his free guide to obtaining an LEI, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.