Trading in eSpeed shares has resumed following the devastating attacks on the World Trade Centre which resulted in the company losing one-third of its employees and half of its senior leadership. The associated voice brokerage operation of parent company Cantor Fitzgerald was wiped out during the assault and has ceased operations.
At a conference call held in New York yesterday afternoon, eSpeed chairman Howard Lutnick discussed the company's business prospects. "It is our promise that this company will stand as a testament to those we have lost and a badge of honor to those who have survived," Lutnick vowed. "In our view, eSpeed will become, along with Cantor Fitzgerald, an American business miracle."
While the eSpeed electoronic trading platform and 306 employees survived the attacks intact, Cantor Fitzgerald's voice brokerage operation was decimated - the firm lost all of its bond brokers when the hijacked passenger airplane crashed into the first of the twin towers. ESpeed suffered 180 casualties, including its president Frederick Varacchi and vice chairman Douglas Gardner.
Lutnick says eSpeed is working closely with auditors, Deloitte & Touche, to support the accounting and finance functions, and has begun a search for a new chief financial officer. Lutnick also introduced a new senior technology team, which will be led by Joseph Noviello, who has been promoted to executive vice president and chief information officer. Matt Claus, global head of application development has been named senior vice president and chief technology officer. James Johnson is to take on the role of chief information officer for eSpeed International, and Debbie Bonsignore Conway has been appointed director of trading system technologies.
The company is currently pursuing payments from its $40 million property and casualty insurance and $25 million business interruption insurance. Lutnick says eSpeed's capital expenditure requirements over the next 12 months will be "more than offset" by its insurance coverage.
While the eSpeed platform was up and running two days after the attacks which destroyed its New York headquarters, the system has suffered frequent outages and bond dealers say it has lost market share in its core product, US Treasuries, to competitors such as BrokerTec.