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June 30, 2002

Bankruptcy Protection For Direct Access Firm

By Gregory Bresiger

The Blackwood Group, a direct access firm, has filed for bankruptcy protection in New York. Blackwood, which had once hoped to break into the sellside business through smart order routing, was a promising start-up. But over the past 18 months its fortunes reversed, according to the bankruptcy petition filed in Manhattan.

"For the year ended December 31, 2000, the Debtor had a gross income of approximately $17 million with a net profit of approximately $2.5 million," according to the petition. "For the year ended December 31, 2001, the Debtor had a gross income of $16.5 million with a net loss of $5 million."

Blackwood, in its filing for reorganization, told the court that, "if it decreases its overhead and begins to license out its proprietary software...it will be able to operate at a net profit and begin repaying its debts." As of the year of last year, it had 10 employees.

Blackwood, which stopped operating in the spring, was said at one time to be the fastest growing direct access provider. It claimed to handle some 10 percent of the volume in QQQs.

Among its clients were firms specializing in index arbitrage trading, basket trades and mutual funds that employ computer assisted trading strategies.