UK data supplier Markit announced an agreement to acquire Swapswire, an electronic trade confirmation network backed by dealers for processing OTC derivatives. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2008.The deal follows a string of acquisitions by Markit and solidifies Markit's role as a powerhouse brand position in the derivatives space, comments Brad Bailey, senor analyst at Aite Group, in an email sent to the media. Markit, which is 70 percent owned by major derivatives dealers, provides pricing, a portfolio valuation service, trade processing of OTC derivatives through its acquisition of Communicator last year, and owns indexes. Last month, Markit bought out International Index Company (IIC), owner of the iTraxx Indexes and CDS IndexCo, which owns the CDX indexes.
"Swapswire has helped out a lot on the interest-rate swap confirmation process, " says Bailey in an interview. "Most of the dealers use them and they've been getting a lot of traction on the equity derivatives side as well," says Bailey. Interestingly, Markit is 70 percent owned by the major dealers derivatives dealer and Swapstream is 95 percent owned by the major derivatives dealers, notes Bailey.
Swapswire is an automated service, owned by 21 dealers, that allows market participants in the OTC derivatives markets to complete trade date confirmations immediately upon execution. Major dealers, inter-dealer brokers, prime brokers and buy-side institutions rely upon on the service.
In a statement, Markit said it plans to combine the Swapswire confirmation capabilities with its trade processing workflow platform to provide the OTC derivatives market with a cross-asset trade processing solution, critical mass and a global network. The enhanced platform will have over 200 buy-side institutions, 50 dealers and 45 inter-dealer brokers.
With the relentless growth in OTC derivatives, which has put pressure on operational infrastructure and raised regulatory concerns, Chip Carver, CEO of Swapswire, stated that the industry faces significant hurdles. By combining Swapswire and Markit together, "We will be able to provide the financial markets with the best possible tools to overcome these challenges," Carver further stated in the release. The combined business will be co-headed by Jeff Gooch, EVP and head of trade processing and valuations at Markit and Carver.
According to statistics from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the OTC derivative markets grew by 25 percent in the first half of 2007, compared to 12 percent in the second half of 2006. Meanwhile, the average number of outstanding confirmations doubled year-on-year, according to Markit's Quarterly Metrics report, which surveys operational data from the top 18 dealers. Markit says the aggressive volumes have led to mounting backlogs of unconfirmed trades, which attract regulatory scrutiny.
Bailey agrees, "There are still a lot of fundamental problems with derivatives processing such as front-office errors." This summer's credit crisis highlighted a lot of problems the market is having in terms of errors, he says.
In a statement, David Lown, EVP at PIMCO, which is a buy-side client of Markit's comprehensive workflow services said, "the deal will be of immense value to the buy-side community. The integration of SwapsWire's real-time confirmation tool into the Markit service will give us a cross-asset platform with electronic straight through processing, allowing us to support our growing OTC derivative businesses with greater operational efficiency," added Lown.
Bailey said the combination of Markit and Swapswire "is a positive step from a buy-side perspective," because buy-side institutions are confused about resource allocation decisions and which vendors will be around in the future. Also, Markit will eventually provide connectivity into two industry confirmation systems.
Through Communicator's pipes, Markit provides the connectivity to DerivServ, the DTCC's matching service for credit derivatives, says Bailey. However, Swapswire has not built connectivity to DerivServ, notes Bailey. Bailey says the deal positions Markit to offer connectivity to both Swapswire and DerivServ. "Their clients will be able to type trades into these two major utilities," says Bailey.
Now that Swapswire will be part of market, it will make it easier for buy side firms to go to DerivServ or Swapswire because the connectivity will be provided through Markit, says Bailey. If this were to happen, PIMCO, which is a buy-side client of Markit's workflow service, could do a trade and pump that to DerivServ (via Markit) and now they'll own Swapswire, he says.UK data supplier Markit announced an agreement to acquire Swapswire, an electronic trade confirmation network backed by dealers for processing OTC derivatives. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio