European Union Lifts Bond-Sale Ban for Some Banks – The Wall Street Journal

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Barclays was one of several banks fined in 2019 for manipulating the foreign-exchange market.

Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg News

The European Union lifted the ban against some banks that had been excluded from working on its bond sale earlier in the week.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., JPM -2.53% Citigroup Inc., C -1.82% Bank of America Corp. BAC -2.56% , Barclays BCS -4.21% PLC, Deutsche Bank AG DB -3.43% , Nomura Holdings Inc., NMR -2.85% UniCredit UNCFF -5.27% SpA and Crédit Agricole SA are among the banks cleared to work on future bond sales, according to an EU official.

When the EU issued €20 billion, equivalent to $24 billion, of bonds on Tuesday to raise funds for a fiscal stimulus package, it excluded some of the world’s largest banks because of their participation in cartels in bond and currency markets in earlier years. The banks had been penalized for those actions in 2019 and 2021.

The banks that have been cleared will be eligible to work on future issuances and were informed on Friday, the European Commission, which is the trade bloc’s executive arm, said by email. “Their further exclusion from participation in syndicated transactions in EU bond issuances is not warranted,” it said.

The EU expects to sell up to €60 billion of long-dated debt this year and €150 billion annually through 2026, and plans to use the funds to support member states’ economic recovery through a mix of grants and loans. The program, the first major pan-European debt program, will eventually raise around €800 billion over five years.

JPMorgan, JPM -2.53% Bank of America, Barclays, Crédit Agricole, Citigroup, Nomura and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Other banks didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The EU ban referenced four cases of cartels that were penalized in 2019 and 2021. Nomura and UniCredit were fined nearly €130 million and €69 million, respectively, in May for illegally colluding on trades in European government bonds.

In April, Bank of America received a penalty of €12.6 million for coordinating prices for sovereign bonds denominated in dollars, while Crédit Agricole was fined nearly €4 million.

Deutsche participated in a bond trading cartel. It wasn’t fined because it informed the EU, but was still banned from the bond sale.

In 2019, the EU fined a group of banks including Barclays, JPMorgan and Citigroup €1.07 billion for manipulating the foreign-exchange market for 11 currencies including the euro, pound, yen, Swiss franc and U.S. dollar. This was done by exchanging sensitive information and trading plans through online chat rooms.

Other banks were also involved in these cartels but haven’t sought to work on the EU’s bond deals.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at

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Appeared in the June 19, 2021, print edition as ‘EU Opens Bond Sale to Big Banks.’