US regulators fine Barclays $150m for abuse of ‘last look’ (fascinating reading)

The NY Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), has handed Barclays an additional $150m penalty and ordered the bank to terminate an employee for what it called: ‘Automated, Electronic Foreign Exchange Trading Misconduct’

According to the NYDFS:

Barclays Used “Last Look” System to Automatically Reject Client Orders that Would Be Unprofitable Because of Subsequent Price Swings during Milliseconds-long Latency (“Hold”) Periods.

The additional fine brings the overall Barclays Foreign Exchange NYDFS Penalty to $635 Million.

That clearly explains why last month Barclays released ‘last look’ guidelines on their BARX website. In previous posts, I have argued that the practice of last look, in effect provides banks with ‘an option on the price’ that gives them an asymmetric advantage over their clients. The press release actually makes fascinating reading, and for that reason I have reproduced most of it below (the bold underline is from the original press release, and not my emphasis).

According to Anthony J. Albanese, Acting Superintendent of Financial Services” at NYDFS, in addition to the fines, Barclays would also: Continue reading

BGC sells Trayport to ICE exchange for $650m

Back in Feb 2015, BGC the interdealer broker (IDB), bought rival GFI for $778m. The transaction included GFI’s FX Option platform Fenics as well as commodity and energy platform Trayport. Although Fenics was strategic to the transaction, BGC had talked about selling Trayport.

Today, BGC announced that ICE exchange, who last month bought IDC for $5.2bn, would pay $650m for the Trayport platform.

According to Howard Lutnick, CEO of BGC;

“One of the main reasons that BGC pursued GFI was the expectation that the sale of Trayport would dramatically lower the price and risk involved with respect to purchasing the rest of GFI’s businesses. The proposed sale price represents $650m of the $750m that BGC will pay for all of GFI.

This translates into BGC paying approximately $100m for $640m of GFI’s remaining revenues, or a multiple of just 0.16 times sales. Therefore, we expect the GFI transaction to produce enormous value for BGC’s investors.”

Trayport: generates less than 3% of BGC revenues ($18.9m in Q3/15)
FENICS, generates $60.7m in Q3/15, or $250m of annualized revenues and approximately $105m of annualized pre-tax distributable earnings

So, selling Trayport and keeping Fenics was a no-brainer for BGC!

David Weiss over at Aite group, has a nice blog post that saves me trouble of comparing the two heavyweight IDB groups of Tullett+ICAP’s Global Broking Business vs BGC+GFI.

Full details of the BGC/ICE transaction here

Great coup for EBS as ex-BARX Architect joins EBSBrokertec as Chief Strategist

Tim Cartledge most recently Global Head of FICC and electronic FX trading at Barclays, and instrumental in the development of Barclay’s BARX platform (along with Dave Cooney, now CEO of Mahi FX) is joining EBSBrokertec as Chief Strategy Officer, reporting to EBS CEO, Gil Mandelzis.

Tim will be responsible for leading and delivering on the strategic direction of EBS BrokerTec, following the successful integration of EBS and BrokerTec in July 2015. Tim brings significant expertise in electronic trading within both the foreign exchange and fixed income markets, at a time when EBS BrokerTec is bringing together its two leading central limit order book platforms and disclosed trading venues EBS Direct and BrokerTec Direct.

The obligatory quote from Tim in the PR states:

“The EBS and BrokerTec platforms are extremely well-regarded as industry leaders in the FX and fixed income markets. Over the past few years EBS has transformed itself into a multi-product, growth business and built a very strong foundation for expansion. EBS BrokerTec is exceptionally well positioned to lead the market in the years to come and I am looking forward to being part of this exciting journey”

In my view this is a really significant hire for EBS, and of course another example of the continual loss of senior talent from top-tier banks.

Full press release here

ICAP results, and strategy for Electronic Markets and Post Trade Services

ICAP today released first half results, confirmed the sale of the Global Broking Business (IGBB) to Tullett Prebon, and as part of their investor presentation, provided more details on the NewCo that will comprise Electronic Broking and PostTrade Services group.

In terms of result, group revenue fell 4% to £595m, although after stripping out ICBB, would show 4% rise, whilst revenues at TriOptima the post trade division rose 35%.

ICAP reported they had invested Continue reading

Could MiFID II be delayed by a year?

Earlier this week, Steven Maijoor, chairman of the European Securities Market Authority (ESMA), told MEPs that the timing for stakeholders and regulators alike to implement the rules and build the necessary IT systems (for MiFID II) is extremely tight.

Even more, there are a few areas where the calendar is already unfeasible. This relates to the fact that it will take some time, and well into 2016, before the text of the regulatory technical standards (RTS) will be stable and final.

According to Steven Maijoor, chairman of ESMA: Continue reading

FX Platforms Oct 15 vols: Major platforms vols slightly lower, CME vols crash, whilst Fastmatch shines with double digit gains

Following weak Sept FX vols, the major OTC FX platforms reported further falls in October, with Reuters down -4.6% at $104bn/day, EBS down -6.5% at $83.6bn/day, whilst The CME futures exchange saw vols for all FX products collapse, down -22% at $92bn/day.

The only bright spot coming from second tier platform Fastmatch, which recorded a +15.4% gain to $9bn/day.

In terms of year on year changes, all platforms are now showing large falls, with Reuters Spot down -27.8% and EBS down -29.1% and CME down -36% compared to last Oct. Continue reading

ThomsonReuters integrates all of its FX transaction venues into next-generation FX Trading desktop

Thomson Reuters has announced they are integrating all of their FX transaction venues into next-generation FX Trading desktop, to streamline access to liquidity for the FX community; including advanced portfolio order management system for buy-side participants. The integration will include:

  • Request For Quote service -RFQ (FXall QuickTrade)
  • Continuous streaming prices -ESP (Bank Stream)
  • Central limit order books-CLOB (Matching, Order Book)
  • Conversational dealing platform (Dealing)

The new FX Trading desktop will also include Continue reading


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