As Reference Data Review went to press, Access International Financial Services was entering the final phase of the process of selling its Global Trade Processing System (GTPS). A key element of GTPS is the Global Product Suite (GPS) security master database.
At press time, it wasn’t clear how many – if any – bids or other indications of serious interest had been recieved. Bruce Reading, executive vice president at Access International, who has been charged with overseeing the sale, didn’t return calls seeking comment. Sources close to the process say early interest in the asset sale was shown by a number of vendors, including Cicada Cos. and Financial Technologies International. GTPS is the former New Trades Processing Architecture (NTPA), a back-office transaction processing system originally developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Credit Suisse First Boston. NTPA in 1990 became the main product of Seer Technologies, a joint venture between CSFB and IBM, which contributed $15 million in funding. NTPA was later sold to Level 8 (later known as Blue Phoenix Solutions) and, in 2000, to Access International. The new owner put great stead in GPS, which was the first of what was planned to be several modules of GTPS to come to market, following extensive enhancements and migrations to more modern technology platforms. Access International spent considerable resources on marketing and advertising, hoping to ride the straight-through-processing wave, as IBM continued to market the GPS product as part of its e-Business on Demand initiative. It appears, however, that Access International underestimated the amount of work this modernization and enhancement process would require. With little or no client pick-up, the company’s investors decided to pull the plug. In May, Access International distributed a preliminary offering – or Asset Sale Overview – document for the assets. In the document, Asset International said it expected to distribute specific terms and conditions of the bid process to interested parties on August 1, with bids to be received no later than August 15. The company planned to conduct an auction for exclusive or non-exclusive rights to the entire GTPS product suite or its individual components. “If a single party submits an exclusive bid with a value greater than the sum of the non-exclusive bids,” the document says, Access International “will award exclusive rights to that bidder. Alternatively, if the total value of the non-exclusive bidders is greater, these bidders will be awarded non-exclusive rights to the GTPS license (and/or individual components).” Access International also reserved the right to offer exclusive rights over any specific module. It expects this auction process to be completed by September 1. Clearly, in the interests of maximizing shareholder value, Access International will be keen to offload as much as possible of the entire GTPS suite. However, since it is furthest along the road to productization, it’s the GPS product that is attracting the most attention in the reference data community. GPS is part of one of four major areas of the securities processing function handled by GTPS, within its so-called Reference Databases module. The other three areas are Trading, Settlement and Clearance, and Financial Reporting. The Reference Databases portion of GTPS itself is based around four main applications: GPS, Global Account Data, Producer Master and Broker Master. GPS is aimed at providing consistent reference data across the enterprise while maintaining flexibility, by consolidating reference data across asset classes, geographies and functions. GPS is comprised of three modules: Product Master, Firm Price Management and Product Classification systems. The Product Master system maintains indicative data and supports online inquiries, updates and batch or feed updates via market data vendors. It supports a broad range of asset types, including equities, debt, options, futures/forwards, mortgage-backed securities, swaps, synthetics, money market instruments, commodities, funds, asset contracts and warrants/rights. The Firm Price Management system facilitates the collection of multiple sourced multi-currency pricing information. It maintains up to 20 prices per day per security, by currency, sourced from different vendors, markets and exchanges. The Product Classification system allows individual departments and systems within the user firm to define a unique classification of the same product, so that it fits with their respective reporting and processing needs. This functionality is made possible by a set of user-defined rules that create a unique product class tree or classification schema. Elsewhere within the Reference Databases segment of GTPS, the Global Account Data module keeps track of all data relating to clients, trading accounts and client account locations. The Producer Master system maintains reference data associated with employees who generate trading revenue. The Broker Master system provides an online facility for maintaining information on brokers who execute trades for the firm.