Former ICAP Execs Eye Europe Bond Market After Treasury Gains

(Bloomberg) -- A startup led by former ICAP Plc executives has set its sights on Europe’s government bond market after grabbing share from bigger rivals in U.S. treasuries.

LiquidityEdge, run by Nichola Hunter, who left interdealer broker ICAP in 2014, saw average daily volume through its platform rise sixfold to $10 billion in the 12 months through through March, compared with a year ago. Hunter is targeting a monthly average of $20 billion by year end, she said in an interview. The startup, which serves clients such as fund managers and pension funds, pulls together bond prices from liquidity providers.

“Our growth has been steady off the back of almost no volatility,” said Hunter, who became chief executive officer last month. “That changed this year with the threat of the 10-year breaking 3 percent -- the emotional barrier generated a lot of activity.” On April 24, the company saw record volumes of $14 billion, she said.

Former ICAP Execs Eye Europe Bond Market After Treasury Gains

The company’s inroads come after CME Group Inc., the world’s biggest futures exchange, agreed to buy NEX Group Plc, in a move that may cement Nex’s already dominant BrokerTec platform in the $487 billion-per-day U.S. treasuries market.

“We don’t know if it will increase share for BrokerTec, but it’s a big change that will cause market participants to take a look at their current strategy going forward,” said Kevin McPartland, head of research for market structure and technology at Greenwich Associates.

In the dealer-to-dealer segment, BrokerTec had an 80 percent market share as of December, while LiquidityEdge had 1.8 percent, according to Greenwich Associates’s research. Nasdaq Inc.’s fixed-income platform, formerly called eSpeed, had 19 percent, down from 35 to 40 percent when it was bought from BGC Partners Inc. in 2013, according to Nasdaq. BGC re-entered the market with a new offering last year through its Fenics platform.

In the third quarter, LiquidityEdge plans to start spread trades to enable customers to profit from differences in notes such as between the 2-year and 10-year treasuries, according to Hunter. Next year, it will add French, German and U.K. government bonds to its platform, she said.

The company, which has about 10 front-office employees and is headquartered in New York, was founded in 2015 by David Rutter, former Icap chief executive officer of electronic broking.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.