|Traded as||NASDAQ: VIRT|
|Headquarters||New York City, U.S.|
|Vincent Viola (Executive Chairman), Douglas Cifu (Chief Executive Officer)|
|Products||High-frequency trading, market making|
|Revenue||US$ 796.2 million (2015)|
|US$ 197.5 million (2015)|
|Total assets||US$ 3.45 billion (2015)|
|Total equity||US$ 557.9 million (2015)|
Number of employees
Virtu Financial is one of the largest high-frequency trading (HFT) and market making firms. It provides two-sided quotations and trades in equities, commodities, currencies, options, fixed income, and other securities on over 230 exchanges, markets, and dark pools. Virtu uses proprietary high-frequency trading strategies based on big data to trade large volumes of securities. On March 10, 2014, Virtu Financial filed for its initial public offering, yet repeatedly delayed its IPO. On April 15, 2015 Virtu Financial successfully priced its IPO which began trading as a NASDAQ-listed public company on April 16, 2015.
Based in New York City, Virtu was founded by Vincent Viola, a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and current owner of the Florida Panthers. Douglas Cifu, Virtu’s CEO since October 2013, co-founded Virtu with Viola in 2008. Cifu is also a co-owner of the Florida Panthers with Viola and serves as the Panthers’ alternate governor. Prior to co-founding Virtu, Cifu was a partner at the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where he practiced corporate law from 1990 to 2008.
The company suggested standards for electronic firms that call themselves market makers. Virtu believes market makers should be obligated to quote at or near the inside of the national best bid and offer throughout the day and quote at various price points in a number of different securities. Virtu was ranked as one of the five largest high-frequency traders of equities in Europe in 2011.
In November 2014, Reuters reported that Chris Concannon, president and chief operating officer at Virtu Financial, will succeed William O'Brien as president of BATS Global Markets, a trading venue that was founded by high-frequency traders.
Virtu has offices in New York City (headquarters), Austin, Dublin, and Singapore. It expanded its European headquarters to Dublin in September, 2013. Virtu Financial Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Mergers and acquisitions
In May 2011, Virtu merged with proprietary trading firm Madison Tyler based in Santa Monica, California with the backing of Silver Lake Partners, a technology focused private equity firm. Vincent Viola co-founded Madison Tyler with David Salomon, a former arbitrage trader at Goldman Sachs.
Virtu acquired a market-making unit that handles NYSE Amex stocks from Cohen Capital Group LLC in December 2011. The purchase made Virtu the largest overseer of trading in shares listed on Amex, known as the American Stock Exchange before NYSE Euronext bought it for $260 million in 2008. The deal gave Virtu a designated market-maker license for New York Stock Exchange companies. With the acquisition, some of the companies Virtu was able to trade and support included New Gold Inc., Northern Oil & Gas Inc., and the American depositary receipts of British American Tobacco Plc.
Virtu Financial initially planned to go public in the first week of April 2014, then postponed its initial public offering by at least a week. At the time, prospective investors advised to wait and "let the storm pass", a reference to recent scrutiny concerning HFT practices. Later in April 2014, the company decided to ultimately postpone the IPO without specifying a new date, making the timing of a potential public offering unknown. In its IPO plans, Virtu sought a valuation of about $3 billion. The IPO had been reported to make Vincent Viola the first high-frequency trading billionaire. While Virtu declined to comment, Reuters reported in November 2014 that sources say Virtu Financial hopes to go public in the spring of 2015. On April 15, 2015 Virtu Financial successfully priced its IPO which began trading on NASDAQ on April 16, 2015.
Secondary Offering: On November 12th, 2015 Virtu Financial Inc priced a secondary public offering of 6,473,371 shares of its Class A common stock by Virtu and certain selling stockholders affiliated with Silver Lake Partners. The selling stockholders sold 6,075,837 shares of Class A common stock and Virtu offered 397,534 shares of its Class A common stock at a price to the public of $22.15 per share.
Virtu operates on more than 235 exchanges, markets and dark pools in 36 countries. Some of these exchanges include NYSE Euronext, NASDAQ and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The company is a designated market maker on the NYSE and NYSE Amex. Virtu makes markets by providing passive quotations to buyers and sellers in more than 12,000 securities and other financial instruments.
On August 28, 2014, Virtu Financial, along with London-based GSA Capital, executed the first trades on ParFX Prime, a foreign exchange trading platform. Unlike most exchanges and trading venues, ParFX's matching engine does not adhere to the principle of price-time priority. Instead, ParFX subjects all orders to random pauses of about 20 to 80 milliseconds, trying to provide a more level playing field.
When filing for its IPO in March 2014, it was disclosed that during five years Virtu Financial made profit 1,277 out of 1,278 days, losing money just one day.
Gregory Laughlin, astrophysicist and department chairman at the University of California, Santa Cruz, researched Virtu's trading activity. In the debate about its near-perfect trading record, Virtu said that it wins 51 percent or 52 percent of its trades, leading most people to figure the remainder are losses. In his research, Laughlin showed that "the number of its trades that break even are about the same as its losses" which means the HFT firm's per-trade losing percentage is only 24 instead of 48, indicating Virtu assumes little market risk.
In April 2014, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent Virtu a letter seeking information on its HFT practices, asking about special arrangements with dark pools and exchanges, the company's trading strategies and whether Virtu practices latency arbitrage, a high-frequency activity considered to be front running.
In July 2014, Reuters reported the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was seeking information on ten HFT firms with broker-dealer licenses, including Virtu Financial, as part of an ongoing investigation into predatory trading strategies. The SEC's probe focuses on abuse of order types and abusive trading like layering or spoofing, a tactic intended to trick investors into buying or selling a stock at unfavorable prices.
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- Two large US proprietary trading firms to merge. Financial Times, May 28, 2011
- Alliance Healthcare, Virtu Financial Offer New Deals. Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2011
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- Virtu Financial (company website)