After Another Banner Year, Virtu Eyes IPO

In what could be a bigger announcement that last week’s scuttlebutt that exchange operator BATS Trading was re-examining an initial public offering, high frequency trading firm Virtu Financial also could be looking to go public.

If Virtu goes public, it would be the first pure HFT firm to do so. Nasdaq does have several firms listed with large electronic trading operations.

As first reported in the Wall Street Journal, Virtu filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week its annual revenue report and its plans to go public. According to people familiar with the plans, the HFT firm is eyeing a preliminary offering value at $100 million and it would trade on Nasdaq under the symbol VIRT.

Like BATS Trading, this isn’t the first time the firm has considered going public. But unlike BATS who had to pull its IPO in the face a software glitch, Virtu opted to stay private as Michael Lewis’ anti-HFT tome “Flash Boys” hit the bookstores and airwaves. Amid the intense public maelstrom and anti-HFT fever swept the markets via the book and subsequent media appearances by the author and others, Virtu decided to quietly stay out of the public eye.

Virtu filed its IPO prospectus last March.

The Journal reported that in the SEC filing, the firm seeks to raise $100 million but that figure, used to calculate registration fees, is likely to change.

The filing also disclosed the company’s performance in 2014:

Virtu’s total revenue was $723.1 million, versus $664.5 million. Trading accounted for 95 percent of earnings or $685.2 million.

The firm lost money only once during all of its years of operation.

Virtu was founded by Vincent Viola, a former New York Mercantile Exchange Chairman.