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CBOE execs expect market volatility to rise amid geopolitical uncertainty

Volatility has been stuck at near-record low levels thus far in 2017, but CBOE Holdings Inc. executives expect an eventual resurgence.

"Given the geopolitical stuff, you would think we would have more volatility," said Chairman and CEO Edward Tilly at a June 7 presentation at the Sandler O'Neill's Global Exchange & Brokerage Conference. "I continue to hear that disposable volatility is the new norm. It's not, and it's going to change."

While neither Tilly or CBOE President and COO Chris Concannon specified as to when volatility may return, Tilly said he believes central banks will begin to release global assets and adjust rates, which would create new macroeconomic factors that have an impact.

CBOE, which operates the well-known volatility index known as the VIX, is in the midst of transitioning its systems to the technology of recently acquired Bats Global Markets Holdings Inc. Both Tilly and Concannon said the cultures of the two companies are not all that different, despite popular perception.

"It's a Midwest culture marrying a Midwest culture," Concannon said.

CBOE executives on June 6 updated customers about the planned migrations of CBOE's exchanges onto Bats' technology. The company will transition its first exchange, the CBOE Futures Exchange, onto Bats' technology Feb. 25, 2018. The company's C2 exchange will be the second exchange to migrate over, with a go-live date of May 14, 2018.

CBOE customers will be able to test their systems and the technology at various points leading up to the migrations, as the exchange operator looks to stop any hiccups in the migration process before they exist.

"You don't want to turn on a platform on that day, do a hard cut and have someone say, 'I'm not ready.' So those long lead times, they just pay off," Concannon said. "They pay off in zero disruptions at the time you launch the system and zero surprises."