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Bloomberg stirs up competition

Bloomberg is beefing up its fixed-income trading capability for the first time in years. This could pose a threat to existing bond-trading platforms. But rivals hope Bloomberg's efforts are just too late to wipe them out.

Bloomberg's office statement: advanced, modern and open to new ideas

THE DESIGN OF Bloomberg's London office is striking. Talking heads speaking different languages pump out financial news on screens hanging from the ceilings, perched on stands, inside table tops. Fancy lighting, tropical fish, an open-plan layout, free food and trendy furniture all make the visitor feel welcome if bewildered.

But they also send out a strong, perhaps even contrived, message: that the company is technologically advanced, open to new ideas, and unashamedly modern.

So it is slightly odd to hear Russel Levi, newly in charge of fixed-income trading technology, outlining why he thinks electronic trading is important. He says it reduces errors, enables straight-through processing, helps investors meet regulatory requirements and gives a clear audit trail.

Trailing competitors? He's right, of course, but all of these are issues that bankers and the staff of multibank ventures have been talking about for five years or so. "Efficiency, liquidity and transparency" has become an oft-repeated motto for electronic trading. Unusually for such a modern company, Bloomberg appears to be behind the competition.

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