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Refco Affiliates Try To Reclaim Their Shares

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

09 December 2005

At a Swiss court hearing this week, Refco's Geneva-based affiliate Advanced Currency Markets (ACM) sought approval to halve Refco's majority stake to about 26%. Refco is opposing the application, and the Swiss judge is expected to give a ruling within a week.

ACM Advanced Currency Markets SA, a foreign exchange execution services company, announced the acquisition of a majority stake by Refco Group Ltd., LLC, in June, 2004, on undisclosed terms. At the time, Nicholas Bang, Commercial director of ACM, said, "We are a leader in retail foreign exchange dealing and have enjoyed an exponential growth rate. Since the inception of our company, our aim has been to become the definitive world leader in our field; now with the backing of Refco, we feel we are on the right path to achieving that goal. We will continue to offer state-of-the-art electronic trading platforms with unbeatable conditions to our existing and future clients."

Collapsed futures trader Refco completed the sale of its main futures business to the UK's Man Group two weeks ago. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain ruled that Refco's assets will be transferred free and clear of all claims and liens. Clients held $6.5 billion in futures accounts at Refco on 30th September, but this figure had dwindled to barely $2bn by last Friday. Man Group agreed to buy the main assets of the business for $323 million, but Mr Togut agreed with Refco's valuation of the deal at more than $1 billion because it allows Refco to retain its net regulatory capital and make those assets available to creditors.

Refco was the fourth-largest US broker before it emerged on 10th October that a former chief executive, Phillip Bennett, had failed to report $430 million in debt. The company filed for bankruptcy protection within a week as clients withdrew more than $3 billion.

Refco owes $16.8 billion to creditors in the bankruptcy, but still has more than 20 affiliated businesses whose valuations are difficult to ascertain.

Another of those affiliates, Forex Capital Markets, a currency trader based in New York, offered Refco $110m this week to buy back Refco's 35% stake and acquire RefcoFX, its biggest client.

It's not clear whether the New York bankruptcy judge who is in charge of the sale process will view unilateral offers for assets of the business, and even less clear how a Swiss judgement against Refco would stand in the US courts.

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