Tag Archives: exchange-traded funds

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Nasdaq Bets on Blank-Check Co. IPOs To Boost Listings; SPACs are Sizzling

Competition for listings is a contact sport in the world of major stock exchanges as evidenced by the assortment of US bourses vying to increase market share in exchange-traded fund (ETFs), which represent nearly 2000 securities or more than half of all equities listed on major US stock exchanges.  While the NYSE has long been the place-to-list for issuers of ETFs, Nasdaq has proven to have sharp elbows in not only soliciting ETF issuers (with BATS taking a distant third), Nasdaq now has another card up its sleeve-the exchange operator is aiming at another listing product known as blank-check companies and is aggressively biting at the heels of Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s NYSE, which has carved out a niche in the listing of these companies, more formally known as Special Purpose Acquisition Companies aka SPACs ™. In an effort to grab market share in this product away from NYSE and boost IPO listings (and hence more fees from Issuers and more revenue from distributing market data) Nasdaq recently filed proposed new rule changes with the SEC that will make it easier for SPACs ™ to list on that platform.

According to reporting by Alexander Osipovich of the WSJ, 22 blank-check companies have floated IPOs so far this year, raising nearly $7bil.

Special Purpose Acquisition Vehicles are shell companies that raise funds via a public offering whereby the proceeds are managed by a pre-selected team of industry-specific executives who receive an equity stake in the shell and are charged with acquiring an existing private company or in some cases, several private companies and roll those companies into the existing publicly-traded entity. In the event an acquisition cannot be identified and approved by an overwhelming majority of the shareholders within [typically] 24 months of the IPO, 95% of the funds raised are returned to the shareholders.

The investment vehicle construct was first created in the 1970’s, but soon fell out favor after regulators uncovered widespread abuse by operators of  blank check company managers, which led to multiple cases of securities fraud charges against many different firms.  The blank check model was later refined in the early 1990’s by GKN Securities, whose principals created a much tighter construct and trademarked the SPAC™ acronym. GKN successor firm boutique investment bank Early Bird Capital since carried the torch of its predecessor; during the past ten years, Early Bird has underwritten and/or co-managed nearly 75 SPAC™ IPOs that have raised over $4bil.

Early Bird’s early success has not gone unnoticed by leading Wall Street firms; 6-pack investment banks Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank among others have crowded into the space that Early Bird Capital forged. In 2017 alone, SPACs™ have raised nearly $4bil for an assortment of acquisition-minded firms.

According to Paul Azous, CEO of Prospectus.com, a consultancy that assists companies throughout the course of preparing investor offering documentation and via a captive network of securities attorneys, the firm also advises companies seeking to list on stock exchanges, “The blank-check concept is in vogue once again, and we’re working with at least two clients who have targeted specific industries that are seemingly ripe for roll-up.” Added Azous, “With Nasdaq easing the listing burdens, strategy of creating a public shell that can with reasonable ease, roll a private company into that publicly-listed entity should provide a good shot-in-the-arm to IPO activity, which has experienced fits and starts in each of the last several years.”

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Bats Europe Enables Direct Access for Buy-Side Managers

According to MarketsMuse market structure mavens, if you can say “dis-intermediate” five times in under 5 seconds, or if you can simply spell the word (without looking at this blog post), then “you’ll get the joke” i.e. exchange operator Bats Global Markets (acquired last year by CBOE for $3.2bil) is a disrupt-or. After sell-side firms were given direct access to a new block trading service for the European equity market launched by stock exchange operator Bats Europe in December,  it was just revealed that starting next month, buy-side asset managers will gain direct access to the same block trading platform. The pending roll-out will enable buy-side traders to submit their own Indications of Interest (IOIs) so as to reduce information slippage.

Bats Europe licensed technology from Bids Trading, the largest block trading ATS by volume in the US to launch Bats LIS (Large in Scale) in December. Per reporting from Markets Media….

Dave Howson, chief operating officer at Bats Europe, told Markets Media that average trade size has grown to more than €1m over the past month since sell-side firms were given direct access to Bats LIS. He added: “We have eight to ten brokers regularly utilizing the platform with additional participants joining all the time.”

Buy-side firms have been able to access Bats LIS through a broker but the service is being rolled out so asset managers also have direct access.

Dave Howson, Bats

“Over the next month, buy side will have direct access to submit indications of interest into the Bats LIS platform,” said Howson. “One of the key benefits of the platform is that the buy side control their IOI up until it is matched before turning it over to a designated broker for execution, which means information leakage in minimized.”

Under MiFID II, the new European Union regulations which come into effect in January next year, block trades above a specified minimum size can trade under a large in scale waiver which allows market participants to negotiate trades without the need to make quotes public to meet the pre-trade transparency requirements. The ability to trade large blocks will become even more important as MiFID II also places volume caps on trading in a dark pool without a waiver.

Another MiFID II compliant service for block trading that has been introduced by Bats Europe is the Periodic Auctions book. Launched in October 2015, the Periodic Auctions book is a separate lit book that independently operates intra-day auctions throughout the day. Howson said: “A priority is to change the structure of our Periodic Auction order book to optimise the duration of the auction, which should result in increased order matching.”

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He continued that another priority in Europe is to increase the volume of trading of exchange-traded funds, which should be boosted by the MiFID II requirements to report ETF trading. Howson added: “The new trade reporting obligation under MiFID II will increase transparency in ETFs so should we expect to see an increase trading of these products on trading venues.”

In June last year Bats launched a new indices business with the introduction of a UK-focused benchmark index series of 18 different indices. In December, Bats added eight indices for the French, German, Italian and Swiss markets bringing the total number of European indices managed by Bats to 26.

“We are currently focused on building European coverage with our indices,” added Howson. “Further down the road we’ll look to create products on the back of the indices, but right now we’re focused on expanding our reach.”

Bats Europe operates a trade reporting facility, BXTR, which will be registered under MiFID II.  BXTR reported more than €4.8trillion in transactions last year.

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Buy-Side Beefs Up Use of ETF Products; They Finally Get The Joke

ETF product use among the Buy-Side is no longer viewed as “just a portfolio re-balance or transition management tool,”  according to a survey of the investment industry’s largest portfolio managers. More PMs than ever are finally ‘getting the joke’ with regard to the value proposition of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), according to a recent report by State Street Global. The up-trending holdings of ETF products across the institutional manager community is attributed to a variety of reasons that include better product education, the ongoing search for alpha, the need to reduce single-stock exposure, and according to Europe-based fund managers, ETF products are ideal vehicles to express global macro investment views.

According to recent research from State Street Global, 85% of investment professionals are using exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain exposure to individual sectors or industries. More than one-quarter of survey respondents (26%) report that over 20% of their assets under management are allocated to sector/industry ETFs.

This research is based on State Street Global Advisors’ Survey of Investment Professionals’ Sector and Industry Investing Attitudes and Usage, completed in the first quarter of 2016. The study comprised web-based interviews with 419 financial advisors and wealth managers.

While it is hard to compare the two conventionally – the average daily amount of stock trading as measured by Bats Global runs around 7.30 billion shares compared to 1.3 billion for ETFs, the latter reported by SSGA. When compared on a notional dollar basis, ETFs hit $13.1 billion versus $48.5 billion for stocks.

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The estimated value of all ETF shares issued exceeded that of shares redeemed by $5.60 billion for the week ended October 26, 2016, the Investment Company Institute recently reported. For ETFs backed by equities, for the week ended November 1 net issuance hit $5.23 billion for the week, compared to estimated net issuance of $2.38 billion in the previous week. Domestic equity ETFs had estimated net issuance of $4.03 billion, and world equity ETFs had estimated net issuance of $1.19 billion.

Nick Good, co-head of the Global SPDR business at State Street Global Advisors, told Markets Media that the research pointed a rosy picture for ETFs going forward. He said the survey found that the use of sector and industry ETFs is highest among private wealth managers, with 92 percent reporting they had some exposure to the sector and/or industry funds; followed by independent/regional broker dealer advisors (87 percent), National Broker Dealer advisors (86 percent) and Registered Investment Advisors (80 percent).

“The most important variables these investment professionals consider when choosing a specific sector or industry ETF are liquidity, expense ratio and the fund’s holdings,” he said.

Looking ahead, 45 percent of financial advisors surveyed report they plan to increase usage of ETFs while another 50 percent said they plan to maintain their current allocation of sector and industry ETFs in the future.

Advisors’ top reasons for incorporating sector and industry ETFs into client portfolios include:

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virtu says no to corporate bond etf market-making

Virtu Says NO to Corporate Bond ETF Market-Making

Virtu Says NO to Corporate Bond ETF risk-taking; Top Market-Maker Opines “Unable to Hedge ETF Constituents Due To Limited Liqudity”

During the better part of three years, MarketsMuse Fixed Income curators have often pointed to concerns expressed by market professionals who argue that the unfettered growth of corporate bond ETFs are masking the inevitable likelihood that once interest rates begin to rise, buy side fund managers fearful of mark-downs in their corporate bond positions will push the ‘sell button’ en masse to limit the P&L hit. Those in the camp expressing such concerns, which includes Virtu Financial, one of the most successful electronic market-makers in the industry, believe that such a mass exodus will wreak havoc on the now $8.4 trillion US corporate bond ecosystem* (*data according to Sifma), where new issuance for 2016 has just surpassed 1 Trillion dollars, and is a marketplace that since 2011 alone, has grown nearly 50% in terms of notional value and number of outstanding issues.

Per one senior market risk expert familiar with the thinking at Virtu, “Their’s isn’t simply a view typically attributed to academics, who have increasingly warned and have been equally derided by ETF lobbyists for suggesting a secondary market meltdown in corporate bond ETF products is inevitable when rates rise. Instead, Virtu has concluded that for those who make a business of ‘taking the other side’ of corporate bond exchange-traded funds, whether investment grade (e.g $LQD) or high yield themed (e.g $HYG), will find themselves playing a game of musical chairs, but there will be no chairs available for anyone when the music stops and traders will find themselves unable to find any liquidity in the respective ETF underlying constituents.”

Below opening excerpt from mainstream media outlet Bloomberg LP and reported by Bloomberg reporter Annie Massa:

One of the world’s largest electronic market makers won’t touch increasingly popular corporate bond ETF products because the underlying securities are too hard to trade.

Although New York-based Virtu Financial Inc. buys and sells everything from stocks to government bonds and futures on more than 235 exchanges around the world, it shuns products linked to corporate bonds like the $15 billion iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF. The reason, according to Chief Executive Officer Doug Cifu, is that it’s too hard for Virtu to precisely hedge the trades.

“It’s definitely concerning you don’t have full and unfettered access to the underlying,” Cifu said, speaking at a Security Traders Association conference in Washington on Thursday. “That’s troubling.”

During the fourth quarter of 2015, TABB Group interviewed key US corporate bond market participants across buy-side, sell-side and specialized trade service providers.Across all segments covered within the survey, participants’ responses reflected dim expectations for liquidity available in the US corporate bond market for 2016. Apart from the threat of a “large scale macro crisis,” the most serious threat that participants identified was the ongoing decline in immediacy (balance sheet) provided by dealers.

Worldwide assets in bond ETFs have surged in recent years, jumping fivefold since January 2010 to about $600 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 88 million shares of fixed-income ETFs have traded daily in the U.S. during the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Other market makers including Citadel Securities and Susquehanna do trade the ETFs, but Virtu’s absence is notable given how dominant the company is in other areas. Cifu said Virtu does trade ETFs containing U.S. Treasuries, including the ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury.

To read a Bloomberg Markets profile of Virtu, click here.

Virtu’s strategy involves arbitraging price difference in related assets, quickly entering and exiting the positions. With fixed-income ETFs, the company is concerned it can’t get access to the related bonds fast enough. Market makers with longer trading time frames may be less reluctant. Virtu’s line of thinking echoes worries elsewhere in the industry. Shares of the funds are often easier to trade than their underlying bonds, potentially posing a risk if there’s a sudden rush for the exit.

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CME Launches Tool To Compare ETF Pricing vs Futures

(Traders Magazine)-CME Group, the US derivatives exchange, has launched an online tool to allow investors to compare the costs of futures against exchange-traded funds, as some ETF issuers have claimed the funds are now cheaper to use.

Last month the CME launched the Total Cost Analysis tool to allow investors to compare the all-in costs of replicating the S&P 500 by trading equity index futures versus ETFs, and intends to expand the tool to other indexes.

Tim McCourt, global head of equity products at CME Group, told Markets Media: “The online tool gives customers the flexibility to compare costs for specific variables such as commissions, trade size and time period.”

The tool focuses on three different components of the total cost of trading – transaction costs, implementation costs and holding costs. McCourt claimed that for an active trader on a short time horizon, futures are overwhelmingly cheaper on a total cost of trading basis, which includes both fees and market impact but in certain circumstances, over different time periods, this could change.

Source, the European ETF issuer, had issued a paper in April, “ETFs vs Futures”, which said futures have become more expensive due to bank regulation while ETFs have become cheaper due to increased competition. The paper said that futures costs have been cheaper recently, this is expected to change. “We expect that, as volatility reduces, the usual imbalance between buyers and sellers in the futures markets will resume and futures costs will return to the levels we saw between 2013 and 2015,” said the report.

In addition Source said futures are particularly expensive relative to ETFs at the December roll as banks have less risk appetite at the financial year-end. “For investors planning to hold an exposure over the December-March period, it may make sense to buy ETFs instead of futures,” added Source.

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Pac-Man Time for ETF Issuers

If you thought the ETF Issuers industry is getting crowded, you are right. While the barrier to entry is relatively low, the path to traction-measured by AUM can prove rocky, if not populated with land mines. What’s an Issuer to do? Join the Pac-Man Party and sell out what you’ve built to those with a fresh perspective who want to Pass Go and collect the $200 (metaphorically speaking) without having to start from scratch. MarketsMuse gives a shout-out to P&I contributor Randy Diamond for the following update..

“More and more money managers are looking at a way to get into the ETF marketplace,” he said. “The fastest way to do that is through an acquisition; buy something already out there.”

Small ETF providers might have little market share, but that hasn’t stopped them from being acquired by larger active money management firms looking for a quick way to enter or expand their exchange-traded funds business.

Hartford Funds, Radnor, Pa., announced May 17 its purchase of Lattice Strategies, a San Francisco firm known for its smart-beta ETFs. Just a week earlier, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Boston, said it would acquire New York-based ETF provider Emerging Global Advisors.

The two announcements by money management firms are the latest in a string of deals that began in late 2014.

At least two more ETF providers will be sold in 2016 to money managers, predicted investment banker Donald Putnam, a managing partner at San Francisco-based Grail Partners LLC. Mr. Putnam said likely buyers will be firms with 20% to 40% of assets under management in mutual funds. “A lot of it has to do with pivoting existing mutual funds into ETF clones, a lot of it has to do with taking asset management styles that are not in mutual funds and putting them in ETF form initially rather than in old-fashioned mutual fund form,” he said.

Mr. Putnam wouldn’t say which ETF companies he believes are ripe for acquisition, but Reggie Browne, senior managing director and head of ETF trading at Cantor Fitzgerald LP, New York, said potential acquisition targets include AdvisorShares Investments LLC and WisdomTree Investments Inc., New York.

AdvisorShares, Bethesda, Md., with $1.2 billion in assets under management, is the more typical size of ETF managers being acquired. Publicly traded WisdomTree, on the other hand, is the largest independent ETF company in the U.S., with $42 billion in assets under management.

Jan van Eck, president and CEO of New York-based VanEck Global, an ETF company with $23.7 billion in U.S. ETF assets, said in the past year he has talked to at least 10 managers interested in acquiring an ETF company. “We stay in touch with potential strategic partners and investors, but we don’t see a reason for a transaction,” he said. “We think we can grow sufficiently as an independent company.”

Capture a slice

Todd Rosenbluth, a New York-based senior director and director of ETF and mutual fund research at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said as asset flows continue to move from active management and into areas such as ETFs, active managers are trying to position themselves to capture a slice of the growing business.

“More and more money managers are looking at a way to get into the ETF marketplace,” he said. “The fastest way to do that is through an acquisition; buy something already out there.”

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O’Leary of Shark Tank Brands Bigger Pool of ETF Products

The summer interns at MarketsMuse had already voted “Shark Tank” as their favorite TV show,  so it was no surprise that our senior curators took their cue to advance the latest news from Kevin O’Leary, the celeb entrepreneur and more recently, an ETF aficionado who has extended his brand to the world of exchange-traded fund (ETF) products under the O’Shares Investment umbrella.

(Bloomberg) — Kevin O’Leary is out to carve a niche for himself in the world of exchange-traded funds.

The chairman of O’Shares Investments and Shark Tank personality has filed a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch 17 ETFs. All the proposed offerings have “quality” in the name and would employ a passive investing approach. The investable universe of these funds includes emerging-market equities, small-cap U.S. stocks, preferred shares, and even corporate credit.

“It’s rare for an indie shop like this to put this many funds on one filing,” said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

O’Leary’s celebrity status and the application of smart-beta strategies to fixed income could help the Canadian businessman differentiate himself and attract assets in what’s becoming a crowded ETF space, with roughly 60 issuers in the U.S. The “quality” designation suggests O’Leary’s ETFs will put a priority on conservative factors, which are in vogue as the bull market enters its eighth year.

O’Shares’ most popular current offering, the FTSE U.S. Quality Dividend ETF (NYSE ARCA: OUSA), has $240.5-million in assets and has outperformed the S&P 500 so far this year:

Details on expense ratios or fees for O’Shares‘ proposed ETFs weren’t included in the preliminary prospectus. The FTSE U.S. Quality Dividend ETF has an expense ratio of 0.48 percent, which is roughly in line with that of other smart beta offerings.

Earlier this year, O’Leary indicated that he was considering a run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories lost the 2015 federal election to the Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau.

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Deutsche Börse Gets Into ETF Block Trades

(MarketsMedia)–European exchange-traded fund (ETF) issuers have welcomed a new service from Deutsche Börse which aims to make it easier to trade large ETF orders on the German exchange.

Deutsche Börse has launched Xetra Quote Request which allows investors to send quote requests for large orders to all registered market makers of a selected ETF, rather than having to negotiate ETF transactions bilaterally over-the-counter or through request-for-quote systems.

The market makers respond by updating their quotes in the Xetra order book, Deutsche Börse’s electronic trading platform. Investors can generally receive a response within 120 seconds of the submission of a quote request although less liquid funds may require more time than highly liquid products according to the exchange.

The process is designed to achieve a high degree of automation with straight-through processing, clearing and settlement, which reduces operational and counterparty risks, while ensuring compliance with best execution requirements for large orders.

Deutsche Börse said in a statement: “Investors therefore benefit from a potential price improvement over execution against a single market maker quote, and ensure best execution by simultaneously interacting with the full liquidity available in the order book.”

Jürgen Blumberg, head of European capital markets at Source, told Markets Media that the European ETF issuer very much liked the Deutsche Börse initiative. “In Europe approximately 70% of ETF volume is traded over-the-counter and liquidity is invisible. If there is more visibility then ETFs will be even more widely used,” he added.

Lansing agreed that the European market will benefit from more on-exchange trading.

“A number of ETP issuers (including us) have long recommended the creation of a consolidated tape (a comprehensive record of both on-exchange and OTC trades),” Lansing added. “Given that that is still in process, more trading on-exchange will go a long way to promoting greater liquidity, price discovery and transparency.”

MiFID II is due to introduce mandatory reporting for ETFs but the new regulations covering European financial markets have been delayed by one year to 2018.

For the full article from MarketsMedia, please click here

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A New Social Media ETF :$BUZ

Not to be confused with yet another social media ETF comprised of social media companies, the latest flavor in the creative world of exchange-traded funds is courtesy of ALPS Advisors and Sprott Asset Management; an ETF that tracks the performance of the BUZZ Social Media Insights Index, which in turn, identifies U.S. companies that rank highest in terms of  ‘positive public perception’ as measured by ‘the buzz’ on social media platforms.

The ticker symbol at NYSEArca is $BUZ, and while our very own MarketsMuse senior editor suggested  a better ticker symbol would be “BUZZ”,  that ticker is rumored to have been reserved by former NYMEX Chairman Richard Shaeffer in connection with his backing of Americanex Corp, an upstart electronic exchange platform for cannabis growers and distributors, and run by former Tullett Prebon FX broker Steve Janjic.

Still don’t get the value proposition of buying an ETF comprised of companies that inspire positive social media generated vibes via their brands? Especially when a single snarkly tweet from a much-followed celeb or political candidate (e.g. Trump) can cause a company’s share price to plunge in a nanosecond? MarketsMuse curators canvassed an assortment marcom experts who also understand the nuances of investing and the senior resident at   The JLC Group distilled the description of the ALPS ETF with this comment, “..the presumption presumably is that companies having a high rank insofar as perception (aka