ICAP Plc, the world’s largest inter-dealer broker (one that carries out transactions for financial institutions rather than private individuals), is now Testing Trades In Greek Drachma Against Dollar, Euro

ICAP Plc is preparing its electronic trading platforms for Greece’s potential exit from the euro and a return to the drachma, senior executives at the inter-dealer broker said Sunday.

ICAP is the latest firm to disclose such preparations, joining the growing ranks of banks, governments and other key players in the global financial system whose officials are worried enough about the stability of the common currency to be making contingency plans for a possible break-up.

The firm has been testing systems that would allow dealer banks to trade the drachma against both the dollar and the euro, the ICAP executives said, cautioning that the measures taken in recent weeks were precautionary. They said the currency pairs would not be accessible for trading unless required by market events, and may never be used.

Certain decisions, such as how many decimal places would be used when representing the drachma’s exchange rate, have not been finalized. But ICAP said the currency templates could be tweaked depending on dealer requests, and that the project could be used as a roadmap for how to prepare for an outcome involving multiple currencies leaving the euro. So far, testing has only involved the drachma, no other currencies.

ICAP has reloaded the drachma templates for spot foreign exchange and derivatives called nondeliverable forwards that were removed from the system when Greece’s old currency was replaced by the euro in 2001.

A Barclays Capital research report last week showed that nearly half of 1,000 investors surveyed thought at least one country will leave the euro in 2012.

Separately, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch research report Friday titled: “Eurozone: thinking the unthinkable,” said a partial union with only some countries exiting the euro was the “most probable scenario” out of all the breakup possibilities. But the researchers stressed that while the currency implications were “worth examining,” a breakup of the euro was still a far-fetched event.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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