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ICE prepared for impending regulatory changes, CEO says

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said the exchange operator has established a "flexible infrastructure" ahead of looming regulatory changes in the U.S. and Europe.

Many global exchange operators and trading firms are trying to prepare themselves for the possibility of new regulatory guidelines in the coming months, Sprecher said during a June 8 presentation at the Sandler O'Neill Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference.

"Nobody knows what's going on," he said. "There is a lot of uncertainty in the community right now."

But Sprecher said ICE is prepared for changes that could come in Europe as a result of Brexit and MiFID II, which is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2018, and in the U.S., from the Trump administration's advocacy for deregulation.

"For us, a move is really a digital change. It's going into a database and changing a file as opposed to actually moving people," he said. "We've got a very flexible infrastructure with all the right people on it. And these changes can happen in a database. We can solve customer problems over a weekend."

As ICE's operations continue to grow, Sprecher said cybersecurity has become a more prevalent concern than ever before. He detailed past conversations he had with now-former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in which Lew told Sprecher that ICE needed to invest more in cybersecurity, including the implementation of a cybersecurity-focused board member. Sprecher said the company has since done exactly that.

For now, the exchange operator's head said ICE is in a "good position" ahead of possible changes in both the U.S. and abroad.

"We've, for years, had the expenditure of positioning ourselves for a lot of different outcomes," he said. "It's pretty clear that whatever the outcome, it's going to move relatively quickly, because there's a lot of deadlines around regulation."