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Moody's: Ruling against Mexican banks on bond market rigging a credit negative

A ruling against seven Mexican financial institutions regarding probable monopolistic practices in the government bond market would be negative for their credit profiles, Moody's said Oct. 16.

Mexican antitrust regulator Cofece reportedly notified seven institutions that it discovered probable evidence of efforts to manipulate government bond prices in 2017. The banks involved purportedly include Grupo Financiero Citibanamex SA de CV, Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB de CV, Bank of America México SA Institución de Banca Múltiple, Barclays Bank México SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Barclays, Grupo Financiero BBVA Bancomer SA de CV, Deutsche Bank México SA Institución de Banca Múltiple and Banco J.P. Morgan SA Institución de Banca Múltiple JP Morgan Grupo Financiero.

These banks are among the largest intermediaries for government securities, Moody's noted, and trading is a vital source of earnings. Moreover, investment banks such as Barclays, JP Morgan and Bank of America are heavily dependent on trading income.

If found guilty, Cofece could levy fines of up to 10% of a company's annual Mexican revenue.

Mexican government bonds are some of the most heavily traded instruments among emerging markets, with government securities outstanding totaling about 7.4 trillion Mexican pesos as of October.

As of Oct. 16, US$1 was equivalent to 19.20 Mexican pesos.