MF Global’s high profile collapse has raised fears over the future of its many IT staff, who have developed and run the complex technology systems it relies on.
Last night, the US broker-dealer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after failed bets on the European sovereign debt market as well as what regulators called a failure to separate its customers’ money from its own. MF Global’s website still boasts of its “relentless pursuit of market opportunity”.
The company’s filing for bankruptcy sent shock waves through the financial markets, alarming investors and leaving futures traders unable to execute a growing backlog of orders. It also alarmed the company’s technology suppliers.
Computerworld UK contacted MF Global’s administrators, KPMG, to ask what its plans were for IT staff and systems. A spokesperson confirmed that the future of its staff was currently being assessed.
“It is a wind down, so we expect redundancies, but obviously we are still going to need a lot of assistance at the moment,” she said, adding that administrators were at the company today evaluating the options. The spokesperson confirmed that MF Global was “essentially a technology business in many ways”.
IT staff represent a significant portion of the company’s 2,000 employees, a third of whom are based in London. The company offers superfast electronic trading to customers “from start to finish” – order entry through to its own settlement and clearing infrastructure – through the FIX messaging protocol, used by many global exchanges.
“Our goal is to provide clients with superior access to markets using the trading tools and strategies best suited to their needs,” the company claims on its website.
Industry observers are speculating about the wider economic impact of MF Global’s collapse and whether its IT staff and systems may be acquired by rivals.
The collapse has already alarmed some of MF Global’s suppliers, who provide a number of the trading platforms that connect customers to the exchanges.
Patsystems, an AIM listed specialist derivatives software company, said MF Global was “an important customer” that accounted for “approximately £3 million of recurring revenue”, equivalent to around a seventh of its sales. The company also owes Patsystems £300,000.
But others said they were less alarmed. Fidessa, which supplies it with a platform for equities trading for CFD brokers, insisted the news would have “no material impact”.