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April 7, 2015

Virtu plans £211m IPO in first for high-frequency trading

Filing will see executive chair Vincent Viola retain majority voting rights.

By

The high frequency trading firm Virtu has announced plans for an initial public offering (IPO) a year after its first attempt was abandoned.

The company is seeking $314m (£211m) and has valued itself at $2.6bn (£1.75bn), according to a filing with the American regulators.

Virtu’s first attempt at an IPO was delayed last year in the wake of controversy over high-frequency trading generated by the book Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

In the book Lewis questioned whether high-frequency traders – the eponymous "flash boys" – had rigged markets in their favour, with algorithms being used to anticipate other traders’ sales and purchases to undercut them.

The allegations prompted investigations by US Congress into the market, leading Virtu to push back plans for a public listing.

Under the plans this time, the family of Virtu’s executive chairman Vincent Viola will retain a majority of the voting power of the company’s common stock.

"As a result, the Viola family will be able to control any action requiring the general approval of our stockholders, including the election of our board of directors, the adoption of amendments to our certificate of incorporation and by-laws and the approval of any merger or sale of substantially all of our assets," the filing said.

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Should this IPO go ahead it will make Virtu the first publicly listed high-frequency trading firm in the world.

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