Bonds and Billions 3.0…Tradeweb Markets, one of the original electronic bond trading pioneers, which first introduced its dealer consortium platform in 1996, proved that patience is a virtue when it comes to monetizing enterprise value. The company raised $1.1billion via its Nasdaq-listed IPO yesterday (NASDAQ:NW). Illustrating investor attraction to owning a piece of the fintech company focused on fixed income trading, the company increased the number of shares they first planned to offer from 27.3 million to 40 million shares and upped the ante for the IPO price from a $24-$26 range to slightly north of $27. The IPO puts a $6bil valuation on the company–whose original investors include a consortium of broker-dealers.
Per snippet from Bloomberg News, Tradeweb intends to use proceeds to buy shares held by eight of the 11 large banks that own stakes in the company, including Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG, according to its registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tradeweb’s IPO is also the biggest for a financial services company in the U.S. since online lender GreenSky Inc. raised $874 million in May.
The offering follows benefits administrator Alight Inc.’s decision in March to postpone plans to raise up to $800 million in an IPO. Alight and Tradeweb are both owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, which led the $17 billion acquisition last year of Tradeweb parent Refinitiv from Thomson Reuters Corp. Tradeweb, founded in 1996, builds and runs electronics markets for trading government bonds, derivatives, exchange-traded funds and other financial instruments over the counter. It handled an average of $549 billion in daily trades in 2018, according to its IPO prospectus.
Tradeweb posted net income of $160 million on $684 million in revenue last year.
As noted by Liz Hoffman of the WSJ, online venues are gaining ground in bond trading, digitizing orders that were once placed over the phone. At MarketAxess HoldingsInc., Tradeweb’s closest listed peer, trading volumes have more than doubled since 2014.
At $27, Tradeweb’s stock will list at about 30 times the company’s annual earnings. MarketAxess trades at nearly 50 times its earnings, while exchanges such as NYSE ownerIntercontinental ExchangeInc. fetch about 25 times their earnings.
Affiliates of Refinitiv will continue to hold about 54 percent of Tradeweb’s outstanding common stock, according to filings.
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For those who missed the MarketsMuse memo from Jan 14, there appears to be yet another exchange coming to the US Equities markets, as if the industry needs one more platform to facilitate trading in publicly-listed stocks. The latest platform, which is still on the whiteboard, is a consortium-based initiative named “Member Exchange”, whose creators have dubbed “MEMX.” As widely reported, the proposed exchange is being spearheaded by two of the top NYSE Designated Market-Making firms, Citadel Securities and Virtu-both of which are best known for their domain fluency in the world of high-frequency trading and both came to be NYSE DMMs by gobbling up legacy NYSE “specialist firms” after the now 227-year old institution was transformed in 2005 from a member-controlled “non-profit” into a for-profit enterprise, which is now controlled by the $42billion market cap company, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE).
Joining Citadel and Virtu in this initiative-which vies to compete directly with NYSE, Nasdaq and the assortment of other venues that facilitate trading in listed stocks is a collective of retail brokerage firms (Charles Schwab, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity Brokerage, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch) along with investment banks Morgan Stanley and UBS). The $70 million question (the amount of capital they’ve put together to seed this initiative) as to why this consortium has been formed and what their game plan is has been a topic of spirited discussion across the sell-side. The moving parts necessarily connect to market data fees, payment for order flow (“PFOF”) and incentive rebates paid to those who provide liquidity to the markets. And most important, who profits the most from the complex fee schemes.
Perhaps the most granular coverage and commentary have been courtesy of industry think tank TABB Group, the research and strategic advisory firm focused exclusively on capital markets. Firm principal Larry Tabb has provided objective insight courtesy of this week’s dissertation, excerpted here:
The question is: Why on earth do we need a 14th US equity exchange?
To understand why the brokers feel they need a new exchange, you need to understand a bit of history. Historically, there were two major equity exchanges: the 200-plus-year-old NYSE and the Nasdaq. These were member-owned exchanges that operated like utilities. After some regulatory challenges with the NYSE and Nasdaq, the SEC opened up the exchanges to competition, and a number of new equity matching platforms were developed. These new quasi-exchanges launched in the late 1990s/early 2000s and, while they looked and acted like exchanges, they were called ECNs and operated under a lower regulatory threshold. These platforms automated predominantly the Nasdaq market. In 2005 the SEC passed Regulation National Market System, or Reg NMS, which forced the NYSE to face competition as well.
By the mid-2000’s the traditional exchanges were also allowed to go public as they moved away from member-owned utilities. During the late 90’s and early 2000s, the traditional exchanges bought up the ECNs, and just as it appeared that the market would be reconsolidated under NYSE and Nasdaq, Dave Cummings, the CEO of Tradebot, along with another high-frequency firm, Getco (which became Knight and subsequently was acquired by Virtu), entered into the ECN space with the development of BATS. By 2006 BATS obtained funding by industry participants and it became a quasi-industry consortium.
When BATS entered the market, it provided competitive pressure to keep both Nasdaq and the NYSE in check. However, as BATS grew, an opportunity emerged for BATS to become a full-fledged exchange (2008), go public (2016), and, in 2017, get acquired by Cboe.
As BATS went public and subsequently was acquired by Cboe, its governance changed. Once BATS became public and was acquired by Cboe, instead of being managed as a lower-cost industry-owed entity, it needed to be run like a for-profit entity, similar to the NYSE and Nasdaq. During the 10-year span since BATS became an exchange, other exchanges were acquired by the NYSE and Nasdaq, until we reach today, when the 13 US equity exchanges are all – except for one, IEX – owned by NYSE (which was acquired by ICE in 2012), Nasdaq and Cboe.
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As the major exchange groups consolidated many of the competitive exchanges, industry brokers/institutional investors began to feel that the exchanges were becoming less responsive to the dealers (and their clients) that sent them order flow. This created frictions between the dealers and the exchanges and culminated with the October 2017 SEC Market Data roundtable, where it appeared the dealers and larger investors were targeting the three major exchanges as being non-responsive, while the exchanges responded that the industry was being needlessly greedy and attacking their business model.
Et voilà, the announcement in early 2019 of the Member Exchange.
So What’s MEMX Thinking?
TABB believes MEMX’s initial strategy will include the following:
While BATS started out as an ECN (a lit ATS), the opportunity to become an ECN has become problematic, as ECNs are not entitled to SIP market data revenue, which could easily provide MEMX with $10 to $20 million a year, as IEX with less than 3% market share generates approximately $10 million in SIP revenues. In addition, given the competitive threat, the order routing facilities that used to be operated by some of the smaller exchanges are no longer in operation, meaning an ECN needs to rely on an exchange for universal access, and given the competitive threat, it is unlikely that an exchange owned by the large three providers would develop that infrastructure. So, for MEMX to share in SIP revenues and control its own routing, it needs to become a regulated exchange.
The fastest way to obtain exchange status is to deploy a “cookie cutter” exchange, modeled exactly like an existing exchange. Unlike IEX’s speedbump, which caused a two-year licensing delay, MEMX will most likely employ a standard maker-taker model, with virtually nothing odd or controversial. While the other exchanges may complain about the added complexity of a fourteenth exchange, MEMX’s exchange application will be completely dull and boring, raising no flags with regulators. That will speed up approval and remove any possible SEC delays.
Once approved, MEMX, operating off the BATS playbook, will most likely employ the ‘Crazy Eddie’ “our prices are insane” pricing strategy: MEMX will provide a larger rebate than its cost to take liquidity. This will achieve two goals: first, it will provide an incentive for market makers to provide liquidity; and second, that incentive will be passed back into more aggressive pricing. While most of the high-rebate exchanges have super tiers of 32 mils (cents/share), MEMX will need to provide a higher rebate than 32 mils or provide more clients with access to the 32-mil top tier. Interestingly, these high rebates and the conflicts that it creates, is exactly what the buy-side is railing about, forcing the SEC to implement the new Access Fee Pilot, which I will discuss later.
Something funny happened on the way to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week; Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial, two of the three biggest NYSE “Designated Market-Makers” aka “DMM”) –also domain experts in leveraging high-frequency trading technology—and now control trading in nearly 40% of NYSE listed stocks, announced they formed a consortium and raised $70 million to create an electronic stock exchange called Members Exchange, aka” MEMX” that aims to compete directly with NYSE as well as NASDAQ to list and trade shares of public companies. The news release likely didn’t sit well with NYSE Chairman Jeff Sprecher, as the announcement reads like a script that could be titled “Mutiny on the Bourse.”
Citadel Securities and Virtu Financial are not merely NYSE designated market-makers, an exclusive role granted by the exchange where the quid pro includes the DMM’s commitment to put their capital at risk while they maintain fair and orderly markets in the stocks they are assigned. Not your father’s NYSE specialists, Citadel and Virtu are also financial industry behemoths. Citadel is a global ‘alternative investment firm’ with $25b AUM and a high-frequency trading (“HFT”) domain expert. One of the original flash boys, the firm’s proprietary trading arm mints money using HFT tactics and strategies and is overseen by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, whose net worth is estimated at $9.8bil.
Virtu Financial is also a $multi-billion platform. Firm co-founder Vinnie Viola is a former NYMEX Chairman, who became a high-frequency trading czar in the early 2000’s. Where Citadel’s Ken Griffith is a Harvard graduate, Virtu’s Viola hails from the US Military Academy at West Point. Now the owner of Florida’s professional ice hockey league franchise, Viola was on a Trump short-list to be nominated for US SecDef. Viola’s net worth of nearly $3bil might pale in comparison to Griffith’s pocketbook, but, what’s a billion here and billion there? Unlike Citadel, Virtu is a publicly-traded company ($5bil market cap), albeit the company’s shares are inauspiciously listed on NASDAQ (ticker: VIRT). In addition to its ‘seats’ at the NYSE, Virtu has a membership presence on nearly 125 exchanges around the world.
So, both of those boys are billionaires, both of their firms are high-frequency trading Goliaths that have multi-asset, market-making presence across a spectrum of electronic trading centers, and both became NYSE top DMMs by gobbling up old-line specialist firms. Virtu secured its initial spot on the NYSE floor in 2011 and Citadel joined the party with its Pac-man strategy of NYSE specialist firm acquisitions shortly after Intercontinental Exchange “ICE” bought out the NYSE in 2014.
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According to the launch announcement put out by MEMX, the $70 million in first round funding came from among others, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Charles Schwab, E*Trade Financial and TD Ameritrade. A total of nine firms are included in the initial business. There is only minor speculation as to why NYSE DMM GTS Securities is not currently involved in the new initiative-or at very least- they were not mentioned in the news release. Perhaps the simple reason is that GTS, which is also counted within the ranks of of multi-asset electronic market-makers, are NYSE loyalists and as relative newcomers to the NYSE, they are leery of aligning themselves with their sharp-elbowed tenants Virtu and Citadel in a yet-to-be-proven initiative and one that will certainly provoke the ire of Jeff Sprecher, the Chairman of the NYSE, and more importantly, the Chairman & CEO of NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange (“ICE”) (NYSE:ICE). If you missed the memo, ICE is the global icon in the universe of financial exchanges; they own 12 other venues.
Why yet another stock exchange?! Does the equities market really need even more fragmentation?! Well, it’s all about the money. Duh.
According to insiders familiar with the MEMX initiative, the owners of Citadel and Virtu -as well as their sell-side partners, have long lamented the escalating cost of fees, both market data fees and the ‘extra fees’ imposed on “market on close” or “MOC” orders-the latter of which now represent the largest bulk of NYSE daily trading volume. Its no secret that those accessing the NYSE have increasingly pointed the egregious pricing to the point where those fees impede the ICE-owned venue’s ability to attract more order flow and better compete with other electronic exchanges that also trade in NYSE-listed companies.
One personal familiar with the MEMX’s pitch deck suggested, “These guys are tired of ICE taking in big market data fees and transaction fee revenue that they believe they are entitled to because they’re the ones making markets and providing liquidity. Their view is if were they to own their own exchange and offer lower fees, they could pocket it all themselves.” More telling as to the motivation is the narrative published on MEMX’s website: “As the only member-owned equities trading platform, MEMX will represent the interests of its founders….. and their collective client base..[comprised of retail and institutional brokerages] on U.S. market structure issues.” Sounds like a line straight out of Gordon Gekko’s playbook.
Are you following former hedge fund trader Larry Benedict’s daily $SPX trading ideas? “Go Home Flat 201”
As cited in the WSJ coverage of the story, MEMX website suggests their model is to “be more simplistic.” They state: “We will include a limited number of order types to promote simple and transparent interactions,” as well as “no speed bumps” to potentially hold up the trading process.” That ‘no speed bump” feature might sound like a slap at the upstart IEX exchange, owned by IEX Group and the ‘anti-flash boys’ equities exchange venue whose shareholders include major buy-side institutional investors. The IEX value proposition is to be ‘fairer to institutional investors’ and it limits access by “exploitative HFT trading firms” whose trade strategies include predatory, nano-second order entry and order cancellation.
Or, the MEMX marketing message could be “click bait” when considering that they have purportedly approached IEX with a proposal to ‘take-over’ the nascent-stage and still-struggling-for-market-share equities exchange venue. Even flash boy fintech billionaires know that when it comes to trading technology, it is often cheaper to buy than it is to build. And, despite MEMX claims they can “easily replicate the NYSE technology and infrastructure at a low price point”, they know the $70mil they’ve put together is merely a seed round when comparing to the 7 year old IEX. which has taken in nearly $200mil since its formation and has only achieved less than 3% market share and the only company listing it has secured is electronic brokerage Interactive Brokers (IEX:IBKR). If MEMX can do a ‘take-under; of IEX, they’d have a ready-made exchange that its founders could pitch to the biggest NYSE-listed corporations.
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Bloomberg’s Betty Liu Moves to C-Suite Role at NYSE
(Original story from Traders Magazine – June 6- by John D’Antona Jr.)–The women’s movement continues at the U.S.’ NYSE, the oldest public stock exchange, announced that former Bloomberg “babe” Betty Liu, who is also founder of financial content firm Radiate, Inc., will become Vice Chair of the NYSE, the global financial industry’s most famous bourse, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (MarketsMuse Senior Editor expresses warm note to Betty and re: the phrase used in quotes above is intended to be entirely respectful and complimentary –and not to be misconstrued as ‘not PC’ or to inspire a #MeToo moment)
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., operator of the New York Stock Exchange, announced today that Betty Liu, an award-winning business journalist and entrepreneur, is joining the New York Stock Exchange as Executive Vice Chairwoman. Her appointment takes effect July 9. Liu will also join the NYSE Group Board.
Liu is the Founder and CEO of corporate leadership advisory Radiate, Inc. and a 10-year veteran of Bloomberg Television, where she most recently co-anchored Bloomberg’s “Daybreak Asia” and “Daybreak Australia.” In her new role at NYSE Group, Liu will bring her global experience working with thought leaders, newsmakers and C-level executives to the Exchange. Working with NYSE President Stacey Cunningham and NYSE COO John Tuttle, along with the senior leadership teams of the NYSE and Intercontinental Exchange, Liu’s mission will focus on strengthening and building the NYSE leadership network, cultivating connections through live events and creating valuable opportunities for organizations to connect across the NYSE’s unmatched listed community of 2,400 leading global companies.
Liu will be joining the NYSE alongside its acquisition of Radiate, Inc., the company Liu founded in 2016 to empower emerging leaders with expert advice. ICE’s acquisition of Radiate is subject to customary approvals. When the deal is complete, Radiate’s team and content will become assets of the New York Stock Exchange and will be scaled across NYSE platforms. Radiate offers a library of more than 2,000 short-length video lessons taught by over 100 global CEOs and thought leaders. The Radiate platform, when it becomes a part of the NYSE, will add to the Exchange’s broad array of content and events. The transaction is expected to close in June and will not impact ICE’s 2018 results or capital return plans.
“Betty is a valuable addition to our leadership team, bringing her unique experience and perspective gained through her global postings and firsthand experience as a media entrepreneur,” said Stacey Cunningham, President of NYSE Group. “By working directly with the leadership of emerging and leading companies, and leveraging the Radiate platform, Betty will help us offer our customers even more opportunities to tap the NYSE network to connect and share ideas on our global stage.”
Liu’s years of international experience working for major news organizations include CNBC, Dow Jones, and the Financial Times. She has been stationed in Atlanta, Hong Kong and Taiwan on assignments.
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Following a decade of new exchange launches, which led to a series of aggressive fee competition to attract order flow and elevated the ‘pay-for-order-flow’ game, the more current trend towards consolidation, fueled by an industry-wide race to zero fees and commissions is sparking rumors that the CBOE and BATS are planning to marry..This on the heels of the still uncompleted deal between Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange (LSE), a transaction that according to one MarketsMuse “has been put on hold pending further impact analysis” of this late summer’s BREXIT vote.”
(Traders Magazine)-CBOE Holdings’ reported talks to acquire Bats Global Markets would be the latest in a long line of exchange tie-ups, with one common denominator: the drive to have more trades execute under the same roof.
“Exchanges are a scale game,” said Brad Bailey, research director at Celent’s securities and investments practice. “Running exchanges in a regulatory, market-structure-complex world is tough. There is tremendous operational leverage available to bigger, more complex exchanges.”
Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported merger talks between CBOE and Bats, citing people familiar with the situation. A deal could be announced within weeks, thought it still may not happen, according to the report.
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CBOE’s eponymous options exchange is the largest of 14 in the U.S., with market share of 26.5% this month, according to OCC data. Chicago-based CBOE has a virtual stranglehold in the index-options business via its dominant CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) product.
Bats, which purchased rival exchange operator Direct Edge in 2014 and itself went public earlier this year, runs the BZX and EDGX options exchanges, which have a combined market share of about 12%. Bats also operates four of the 13 U.S. equity exchanges, with a combined market share of about 20%.
Equity and options exchange operator Nasdaq bought options bourse International Securities Exchange earlier this year. In the equities space, IntercontinentalExchange bought New York Stock Exchange in 2013. In Europe, Deutsche Boerse and London Stock Exchange are planning to merge. And there have been a host of exchange mergers over the past half-decade that have been discussed or proposed but ultimately didn’t happen.
“Think about the size and scale across asset classes of most exchanges,” Bailey told Markets Media. “ICE gobbled up NYSE, DB/LSE are attempting a marriage despite the complexities that Brexit has added to that equation.”
MarketsMuse editors are gearing up to profile ‘What’s Next?’ Anti-Trust Fever Sweeps Regulators as Exchanges Consolidate to Revert To Predatory Pricing Model..” To read the entire story CBOE Rumored to Merge with BATS Exchange from Traders Mag, click here
The NYSE, a division of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) has encountered a slippery slope in the exchange’s effort to secure a bigger role in the ETF marketplace through a scheme that would expedite the creation of so-called actively-traded ETFs, which some MarketsMuse followers have dubbed ‘exchange-traded funds on testosterone.’
WSJ-The New York Stock Exchange this month withdrew a proposal to the Securities and Exchange Commission that would have expedited the regulatory approval of some exchange-traded funds, a setback for the fast-expanding ETF industry.
What the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. unit sought is known as a generic listing standard, which would have cut months off the process to list actively managed ETFs. Listing currently requires a fund-by-fund evaluation by the SEC that can take several months. The SEC reported the withdrawal on Oct. 19.
Generic listing standards for many index-based products, which seek to mimic the performance of a particular index, have slashed the time and cost of getting an exchange-traded fund to market, helping fuel a record number of new issuers this year.
The setback for efforts to secure similar standards for actively managed products highlights the limits facing the industry after years of rapid and broad growth.
The SEC declined to comment on the withdrawal. A person familiar with the process said there were concerns at the SEC about the open-ended use of derivatives that could occur if the rule were approved. A narrower proposal could limit the types of new funds or tools they use should the SEC eventually approve the listing standards.
For its part, NYSE still sees value in a faster approval process for these funds, an exchange spokeswoman said.
A person familiar with the matter said NYSE would tweak and refile the proposal.
“I think it’s the SEC being extra cautious,” said Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF research at S&P Capital IQ. “I think they want to fully understand the risks that investors take on with these products.”
Exchange-traded funds hold baskets of stocks, bonds or other assets and trade on an exchange like a stock. Most are passive, with holdings dictated by the rules and weightings of the index they are designed to track. Actively managed products, in which a fund manager can change the holdings, account for only about 130 of the 1,787 exchange-traded products in the U.S., according to ETFGI, a London-based consulting firm. They have about $21.6 billion in assets, a fraction of the some $1.98 trillion in all exchange-traded products in the U.S.
For those who might have missed it, Jeffrey Sprecher (pictured above), the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the NYSE, is determined to put the genie back in the bottle by turning back the market structure changes that have taken place over the past 10 years, including the surge of “dark pools” hosted by leading investment banks which internalized all institutional order flow and the dominant use of complex “maker-taker” fee models that exchanges have provided as a means of capturing order flow to their venues.
As reported by the WSJ 2 days ago, Sprecher has been negotiating with all of the major banks that operate dark pools and offering a %90 reduction on NYSE exchange fees if those banks will send the order flow back to the NYSE. According to the latest news, those banks are apparently on-board with the notion proposed by Sprecher, yet KCG, the group formed by Getco and the former Knight Capital, a major “market-maker” is opposed.
Here’s an excerpt from the story by WSJ’s Bradley Hope and Scott Patterson:
“..Under the proposal, the NYSE would drop the fee for trading stocks at its exchanges to five cents per 100 shares from 30 cents per 100 shares, the people say. Banks, in turn, would accept a rule known as “trade at” that would give more precedence to the stock exchanges for most orders. A trade-at rule would mandate that stock trades take place on exchanges unless private venues offered a better price. Advocates of the rule say it would force a significant chunk of the stock trades that occur away from exchanges back onto them.
Credit Suisse AG, which operates the largest dark pool in the world, has endorsed the proposal, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and UBS AG—which are among firms expected to be affected by the proposal—declined to comment.
“We’re actively involved in discussions with ICE and we are optimistic about the proposal yielding positive results,” said Jamie Selway, a managing director at Investment Technology Group Inc., a brokerage that operates a dark pool.
Last month, Nasdaq announced it was drafting a pilot program that would test the effect of lowering trading fees on a group of stocks. The pilot is scheduled to begin in February.
The NYSE proposal would require approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is likely to face opposition. Among the critics is KCG Holdings Inc., a brokerage firm that operates dark pools and a business that matches up retail stock trades.
“Mandating trading on exchanges is an elephant-gun approach motivated by commercial interests of a handful of market participants,” KCG said in a statement Wednesday.
The ICE proposal has been in the works for more than a year, according to people familiar with the situation.
Mr. Sprecher and Thomas Farley , the ICE executive appointed as president of NYSE Group, began discussing a variety of changes to their markets, including a reduction in fees, with Wall Street firms about nine months ago, according to a person close to the discussions. The goal was to try to get long-term investors such as mutual funds, as well as banks and high-frequency traders, to unite behind a broad restructuring of the market that included lower fees, the person said. Credit Suisse became more deeply involved in the discussions several months ago, the person said.”