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Foreign Exchange

Spot trading: To BGC or not to BGC

Cantor Fitzgerald offshoot BGC is being coy about the apparent closure of its spot FX broking business.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s announcement in late 2004 that it was going to spin off and then significantly expand its voice broking operations caused some surprise in the market. The new venture, called BGC Partners in honour of Bernie Cantor, founder of the company that still bears his name, made it clear that it intended to expand significantly and that voice broking would play a major role in its operations.

This in itself was easily explained. Despite continuing reports of their demise, human brokers have yet to be replaced fully by computers in many markets. There is a straightforward reason for this. Voice brokers continue to play a huge role in the price discovery mechanism, particularly in more complex products, such as exotic interest rate and currency options.

BGC has been true to its word. It has trebled its workforce since its launch in October 2004, and along the way has taken over rivals Euro Brokers and, more recently, ETC Pollak, a French inter-dealer broker based in Paris. At the time of the second acquisition, announced on October 3, BGC said: “Further expansion in Europe, particularly in Germany and Luxembourg, as well as in Asia and certain emerging markets, is being actively considered.”

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