Hundreds of City jobs at risk as Cantor swoops on Tulletts

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Cantor Fitzgerald, the American money broker, is in the final stages of agreeing the acquisition of Tulletts, its British counterpart.

Cantor Fitzgerald, the American money broker, is in the final stages of agreeing the acquisition of Tulletts, its British counterpart.

Senior managers of Tulletts are this weekend in New York to finalise a deal which could threaten hundreds of jobs in London. Both companies are large employers in the City and the deal reflects the need for cost-cutting in an industry which has been revolutionised by the increasing automation facilitated by new technology.

A spokesman for Cantor declined to comment. And no spokesman for Tulletts was available.

The acquisition of Tulletts will allow Cantor to close the gap on Garban-Intercapital, the quoted company that's the industry's biggest operator.

Money brokers, who charge a commission to act as middle-men in multi-million pound inter-bank transactions, have seen their livelihoods threatened by the development of electronic trading systems and the increasing propensity of traders to deal direct. Thousands have already lost their jobs in a wave of consolidations.

As well as last year's merger of InterCapital with Garban, the money broker previously owned by media group United News & Media, other recent alliances include the merger of Anglo-Japanese operator Prebon Yamane with London-based MW Marshall.

The sale of Tulletts lately became more likely with the retirement of founder Derek Tullett. Cantor, that dominates the US Treasury bond market, is understood to be eager to find new products to trade on its e-Speed trading platform. By acquiring Tulletts, Cantor will be looking to use its technology to service the needs of the former's predominantly foreign exchange customers.

The foreign exchange markets, which once were the most profitable in the industry, have been decimated by the emergence of the EBS trading system that allows banks to cut out brokers by posting prices on screens. It was the decline of this market which led some two years ago to the demise of Marshall.

Cantor, which was formed in 1946 by its eponymous founder Bernie, has spent the last few years expanding aggressively in the UK by tempting staff away from incumbent operators with the lure of huge salaries. It was involved in a high-profile legal wrangle with Garban-Intercapital after poaching a team of brokers from its rival.

The success of Garban-Intercapital, which is valued on the stock market at £241m, has derived from its concentration on the more lucrative interest rate-swaps market, and technological innovations. Michael Spencer, the major player in the consolidation of the industry since founding InterCapital, is now estimated to be worth around £80m.

The trend away from voice-based money broking was demonstrated earlier this month when Prebon chose to reverse its technology operations into Firth Holdings, a quoted company previously known for making steel products. Prebon's mature voice-based broking operation did not form part of the deal.