Allston Holdings LLC, parent of Allston Trading, a proprietary high-frequency market making firm, said it has established new commodities and energy trading teams in Chicago and opened its first office in New York as part of a strategic growth plan.
Allston is taking this step after reports last June that it was in merger talks with RGM Advisors.
According to today’s release, John Stotts has joined Allston as Director of Commodity Trading, and Chris Neylon has joined as Director of Energy Trading. Each will manage the firm’s growth in their respective sectors. Stotts has 14 years of experience in trading and managing agricultural commodity options. Neylon has over a decade of experience in trading and managing options and futures trading groups, primarily in the energy space.
The New York office was launched with veteran trader and technology executive Kirk Howell and software developer Jiujiu Sun. Jim Lemoine, formerly founder and managing partner of Lemoine Trading in New York, is serving as an advisor to Allston on the establishment, strategy and growth of the New York operation.
Howell, who joins Allston as New York portfolio manager, has been active in the commodity and technology space for 12 years. Sun joins Allston as a quantitative analyst. Previously, he developed software for Lemoine Trading’s strategies since 2009. With 25 years of experience in the New York and Chicago commodity option markets, Lemoine is widely known for developing innovative systems for the electronic trading of commodity options, notes the release.
“Over the past year, we’ve been laser-focused on expanding our futures and options franchise into markets with attractive risk/return profiles, where we have a technological competitive advantage, and where we either have or can recruit talented leaders,” said Allston CEO Raj Mahajan in a statement. “In parallel, we’ve pulled back from markets that lack these characteristics. I’m pleased that Allston continues to attract some of the most talented people in our industry.”
In June, Allston was reportedly in merger talks with RGM Advisors, according to Bloomberg News. Both firms earn money through high-speed strategies that use computers to buy and sell stocks, commodities and other assets on electronic exchanges. A decline in daily trading volumes by HFT firms led to a drop in profits from $5 billion in 2009 to $1 billion in 2012, based on data from Rosenblatt Securities. In the same article Allston's CEO said from time to time, the firm was open to partnerships, but as today's announcement signals, the firm maybe moving in a different direction.
The New York office, located in Rockefeller Center in the McGraw-Hill Building, includes infrastructure to support trading and room for the New York staff to expand as Allston identifies new opportunities for growth.