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Refco Completes Man Group Sale

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

01 December 2005


Collapsed futures trader Refco said on Monday that it had completed the sale of its main futures business to the UK's Man Group. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain ruled that Refco's assets will be transferred free and clear of all claims and liens.

As agreed with Man Group, Refco lodged a bankruptcy filing for the futures business on Friday, allowing 'a seamless transfer of customer accounts over the weekend, when global markets are closed', said Refco. Control of the futures brokerage was transferred temporarily to a Chapter 7 trustee, Albert Togut, who said that the business had deteriorated significantly since Refco's troubles hit on 10th October, and that a prompt transfer to Man Group was the best outcome for the business.

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.

Both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved the sale. The latter's approval had been seen as crucial, since the Commission had objected to some aspects of the terms outlined for the auction of Refco's commodities and futures arm. CFTC attorneys had written: "While we do not intend to suggest anything negative about the conduct of the firm, no person or company is above the law. The commercial sale of a business cannot be premised on a grant of immunity from ordinary law enforcement." However that is what Man Group seems to have obtained.

Also this week it it emerged that Refco has sued eight of its former traders, asking the Illinois state court in Chicago to stop the brokers from doing business with former clients.

in a lawsuit filed Nov. 21. Steven Brewer, chief executive of Brewer Futures Group LLC in Chicago, which hired the brokers, said the employees acted in the best interest of clients and to protect their own livelihoods after Refco collapsed. The brokers had undertaken not to solicit or accept Refco customers for two years after leaving the company, according to signed agreements filed with the lawsuit. 'There is nothing about Refco's circumstances that gives the brokers the right to harm the business,' said Albert Hogan, a Chicago partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.

The brokers had been hired by Brewer Futures Group LLC in Chicago, which is also named in Refco's suit alongside the individual brokers. It's not clear how Man Group will be able to defend itself against further depredations by Refco's ex-staff without court assistance, and this is no doubt partly why Refco has taken action.


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