Commentary

Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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April 1, 2001

This Bridge Not Falling Down

By Peter Chapman

Bridge Trading Company, which is not part of its parent firm's bankruptcy, will soon likely have a new owner, software company Sungard Data Systems.

SunGard is expected to acquire other assets of troubled Bridge, including its eBridge Internet unit; BridgeNews-LiveWire service for U.S. corporate news, and EJV, a debt information provider. The total price tag is $165 million.

Officials at parent Bridge Information Services (BIS), Inc. say the firm will file a motion for sale of the entire company sometime this month in order to exit Chapter 11. BIS Inc. filed for bankruptcy in February. It owes creditors more than $1 billion. Other Bridge units include Telerate.

Suitors for Bridge Trading were rumored to be ABN-Amro, Moneyline and Cantor Fitzgerald. Bridge's largest shareholder, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, had been expected to put in a bid, according to a Bridge spokesman. Tom King, president of SunGard Trading Systems, declined to comment.

Bridge Trading, a 26-year-old agency brokerage and vendor, hasn't been shy of late in boasting of its attributes nor of its relative independence. Last month the private company announced it booked record revenues and profits during fiscal year 2000. After-tax earnings nearly doubled to $25 million on revenues of $142 million. The broker also stressed it was "separately capitalized" and responsible for its own earnings and balance sheet.

"Bridge is not dependent on monies coming from Bridge Information Services or any other entities," said the spokesperson. Net capital stood at $4.7 million at the end of the year.

Bridge Trading traded three billion shares, mostly listed, last year. That makes it the second largest U.S. agency broker. ITG traded 4.5 billion listed shares in 2000, while No. 3 Lynch Jones Ryan/Instinet traded 1.9 billion, according to Thomson Financial's AutEx BlockDATA. Nasdaq market making is negligible, according to Nasdaq statistics.