Knight not likely to shed major business units, CEO says

Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:14am IST

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* Joyce says strategic review underway looking for efficiencies

* Says new directors very active

* Supports idea of Direct Edge sale

By John McCrank

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Knight Capital Group is not likely to shed any of its major business units after the Aug. 1 trading glitch that cost the market maker $440 million, forcing it to take on additional investors to avoid bankruptcy, Chief Executive Thomas Joyce said on Friday.

Volume levels at Knight, one of the top executors of U.S. stock trades, have returned to normal and now management and the firm's reconfigured board are conducting a strategic review of Knight's business units, Joyce said last week.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, Joyce said the thrust of the review is to look for efficiencies.

"An error was made on August 1, but we didn't really alter our view that we kind of like our footprint. The businesses that we are in, I think are doing well, and at this point we have every intention of building on that success," he said on the sidelines of a conference held by the Security Traders Association.

Aside from being a major market maker, matching equity orders from buyers and sellers and providing liquidity by stepping into the market themselves, Knight also runs bond and foreign exchange trading platforms and owns a reverse mortgage lender.

A group of investors, including Blackstone Group, Getco and financial services companies TD Ameritrade, Stifel Nicolas, Jefferies Group Inc and Stephens Inc rescued the embattled market maker in a $400 million deal that kept it in business.

As part of the deal, TD Ameritrade, Blackstone, and Getco investor General Atlantic were given seats on Knight's board.

Joyce said the reconfigured board has had just one meeting so far, but that the new directors were very active.

"They have been very communicative and they understand the industry, so they have been very helpful in terms of industry issues," he said. "The other three new investors have been passive."

Knight also holds a stake of about 20 percent in Direct Edge, the No. 4 U.S. cash equities exchange. Reports have said in recent months that Direct Edge is looking for potential merger partners, and Joyce, who once sat on Direct Edge's board, said he supports the idea.

"There is a lot of logic if they find a bigger, global partner. It gives somebody internationally a chance to have a pretty big presence in the U.S., so I think it is a very attractive asset," he said.

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