©ICIS HEREN - Traders sceptical over launch of Hungarian power exchange
Traders doubt the official launch of the Hungarian spot exchange will happen any time soon after the platform's chief executive said the facility will not be operational from Thursday (1st July), as previously advertised. Zoltán Medveczki said the facility, which has already been delayed by three years, would start later in July to allow market participants more time to test the platform's system. But traders polled by ICIS Heren said dealers should be familiar with the service as it is similar to the French EPEX spot outfit - already in use throughout continental trading floors. "There were some rumours at the beginning of June, that [HUPX] had some administrative problems and might delay the launch. They gave a new starting date, around 15 July, which falls mid-week. This is inconvenient from a trading point of view. Personally, I don't think the launch will take place in July," one trader said. Other participants said a small delay to HUPX, which started testing operations on 18 June, would not affect take-off on the exchange. "It doesn't matter whether the platform goes live on 1 or 15 July. If it has to be delayed, then it has to be delayed," one trader insisted. Medveczki said in a statement posted on the bourse's website that during the delay traders can practise operating the platform free of charge and prepare sending seven-day schedules. "To our pleasure, the number of market participants that applied for membership is twice higher than we expected primarily," he added. The exchange, which is pioneered by Mávir, the Hungarian grid operator, had reportedly attracted 20 participants by the end of June, including high-profile market players such as Germany's RWE and ČEZ, the Czech incumbent. The delay comes amid an ongoing trading war between HUPX and the Prague-based bourse PXE, which launched a spot platform in Hungary with Austria's EXAA in May. The launch raised eyebrows in Hungary, where the country's energy office, MEH, started an investigation into PXE's licence to operate on the Hungarian market. PXE and EXAA were accused of charging high operation fees which the bourses denied, turning the table on HUPX which they labelled as expensive. PXE has said EU law could allow it use a licence issued by the Czech industry ministry and national bank. Now David Kučera, secretary general of PXE, told ICIS Heren: "This is not the first delay of the HUPX platform. This is why we [EXAA and PXE] decided to launch the spot platform in Hungary. We hope that market participants notice this and that it will send a signal where to expect a reliable service." HUPX did not comment directly on this, but said in a statement that it would continue to handle their members' feedback as quickly as possible. The HUPX project has suffered a number of setbacks related to development issues and licensing since it was announced in 2007. But last December, it linked up with EPEX, the regional spot exchange of France, Germany and Switzerland, for a Hungarian spot market venture (see EDEM 17 December 2009). HUPX markets itself as a potential regional exchange hub, providing links to neighbouring platforms such as Romania's OPCOM, Austria's EXAA, the Czech Republic's PXE and OTE, the European Power Exchange (EPEX) and the west Balkans' BSP Southpool. It has plans to establish a forward physical market with monthly and yearly products and is mulling the introduction of an intra-day market within a year of operation. (THE ICIS HEREN REPORTS - EDEM 14.124 / 30 June 2010)

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