What is the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE)?

The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE) is the former name of the largest futures and options exchange in London, England. It has been renamed as the ICE Futures Europe after a series of mergers and acquisitions left it under the ownership of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

Key Takeaways

  • This large futures and options exchange is now called ICE Futures Europe.
  • It was started in 1982 and has undergone many ownership changes.
  • It completed a massive technological overall from 1998 to 2002.
  • The exchange still publishes the most important index in oil trading: the Brent Crude index.

Understanding London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE)

LIFFE was established in 1982 by Sir Brian Williamson whose motivation in creating the Exchange was to capitalize on opportunities from eased currency regulations introduced by the United Kingdom. As such, the Exchange began with futures contracts and options linked to short-term interest rates. Since 1982 the Exchange has merged several times.

  • In 1993, LIFFE merged with the London Traded Options Market. This merger added equity options to the Exchange.
  • In 1996, LIFFE merged with the London Commodity Exchange adding agricultural commodity contracts.
  • In 2002, LIFFE was acquired by Euronext.
  • In 2007, Euronext and the NYSE merged to create NYSE Euronext. LIFFE became part of the NYSE Euronext businesses.
  • In 2013, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) purchased NYSE Euronext. LIFFE became part of the ICE businesses still operating under the umbrella of NYSE Euronext.
  • In 2014, Euronext exited the Intercontinental Exchange relationship and began trading independently through an initial public offering.
  • In 2014, LIFFE remained with ICE NYSE and was named ICE Futures Europe.

ICE Futures Europe Services

The ICE Futures Europe exchange is one of many futures and options exchanges globally. Its peer subsidiaries under the ICE brand include ICE Futures U.S., ICE Futures Canada and ICE Futures Singapore.

In the U.S., comparable exchanges include the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT). 

The ICE Futures Europe exchange primarily uses electronic exchange networking for its transactions. However, it does have an open outcry trading pit with some human transaction execution as well. The exchange has an extensive list of members who pay a membership fee. Products transacting on the ICE Futures Europe exchange include agriculture futures, energy futures, interest rate futures and options, and all types of equity derivatives.

The ICE Futures Europe exchange is registered as a recognized investment exchange in England. Its key regulators include the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for U.S. linked products.

The ICE Futures Europe exchange business has a prestigious board of directors. It is also known for the management of the Brent Crude Index which is a global benchmark administered by ICE Futures Europe. The ICE Brent Index is calculated to represent the average price of trading for Brent futures. Brent futures represent the largest trading block of oil futures over other types of oil contracts.