Exotix pushes beyond the wild frontier
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Exotix pushes beyond the wild frontier

From Cuba to Zimbabwe, and from Iraq to Sudan, London-based securities firm Exotix has taken the esoteric markets label and made it its own. Following its recent split from parent company Icap, Exotix is turning away from its background in distressed debt and trading more and more assets from frontier markets. Dominic O’Neill reports.

Zinc or swim in Yemen

Peter Bartlett and the birth of Exotix

Stuart Culverhouse and Peter Bartlett

WHEN IN PYONGYANG, do as the North Koreans do. For business travellers, this involves the mandatory purchase of a large bunch of flowers on arrival at the airport on the twice-weekly flight from Beijing. It then involves a direct trip from the airport to the city-centre statue of Kim Il Sung, where you are obliged to lay your flowers and bow in deference to the deceased leader.

"Culturally, it is like going back to some strange eastern civilization," says Peter Bartlett (right in picture), managing director of Exotix, and a leading expert on North Korean and Cuban debt.

Exotix certainly lives up to its name. In Cuba and North Korea, two of the world’s last communist outposts, it could hardly have chosen more unusual settings from which to make money on the capital markets. There is only one other brokerage, after all, that deals in North Korean debt.

Exotix has seen immense change since its birth 10 years ago as an in-house subsidiary of London-based interdealer brokers Icap. In 1999, when the firm was registered with the UK Financial Services Authority, emerging markets were still recovering from the Asian and Russian financial crises of 1997 and 1998.

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