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Alternative Trading Systems Directory 2010

The year since we launched our first edition of the A-Team Alternative Trading Directory has passed by in a flash (no pun intended). And while the rate of expansion of the alternative trading system sector may have slowed – even consolidated somewhat – in the more established centres, their onward march continues both in terms of credibility, and of uptake in pastures new.

In the most mature of ATS markets – the US – the alternative liquidity venue landscape has been marked by the coming of age of key venues. Most notably, the former ‘alternative’ venues operated by Bats Global Markets and Knight, have lost their ‘alternative’ tag and emerged as credible and highly liquid exchanges.

In Europe, where MiFID ushered in a rush for the ATS hills, liquidity appears to have settled in a few key alternative markets, giving the traditional exchanges a run for their money. But there’s a whiff of consolidation in the air. The highly primed Turquoise venture is now part of London Stock Exchange. Nasdaq OMX Europe discontinued its Neuro dark pool. Nyfix’s EuroMillennium vaporised following its parent’s acquisition by NYSE Euronext. And as we go to press, the European marketplace is abuzz with talk of an approach to ATS market leader Chi-X Europe, possibly from Bats.

Against that backdrop of fragmentation fatigue, new ATS markets are emerging, as new technologies encourage upstarts to take a shot at the incumbents. As of September 2010, current hotspots include Canada, where a raft of alternative venues have gained momentum against the dominant exchange group TMX; the Nordic region, where the introduction of the high-speed INet trading platform by Nasdaq OMX markets has spurred high frequency trading, which in turn has boosted demand for alternative venues
like Burgundy; and Tokyo, where the deployment of the Arrowhead trading platform by the Tokyo Stock Exchange has had a similar impact.

Indeed, many operators are turning to Asia, essentially virgin territory when it comes to high-performance trading platforms. As such, the likes of Chi-X Global, NYSE Technologies, Nasdaq OMX and others have moved to work with local players to establish new alternative liquidity sources.

In short, the ATS space very much remains a dynamic one – and one that warrants watching as it unfolds over the next 12 months. Once again, we are indebted to Fidessa for its continued support of the Alternative Trading Systems directory.

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