On 19 July, ECSDA published a special report on the registration of securities holders. The report describes existing registration requirements for shares and debt instruments in 38 European markets. It highlights the lack of harmonisation around the process of recording ownership in securities across Europe.
Among the key findings, it shows that registration is mandatory for shares in roughly half of the markets surveyed, whereas it is only mandatory for debt instruments in around 1/3 of the markets. Bearer securities, which do not require the maintenance of a register, are still commonplace. The below chart shows the proportion of registered securities across European markets, based on the market value of all of securities held at the CSD:
ECSDA’s research also shows that the link between registration and settlement is not the same in every market. Where beneficial owner accounts are maintained at the CSD, the register tends to be a direct reflection of CSD accounts, which means that the register is updated on a daily (or even intraday) basis to reflect the changes in CSD records following a securities transfer between accounts at the CSD. In other markets, the register is maintained separately from CSD accounts and may only be updated on an ad hoc basis, typically at the request of the issuer.
The report also looks at the role played by CSDs in the maintenance of the register. In more than half of European markets, the CSD acts as the sole or primary registrar, as illustrated in the following chart:
In other cases, either the CSD updates the register jointly with its participants (banks maintaining accounts on behalf of investors), or it does not play any direct role in updating the register.
Finally, the information items contained in the register are not harmonised and the report provides further details on the most frequently requested data.