MF Global administrator vows to close broker's positions within days

More than 700 staff in London are told they will be paid this month – but their jobs are still at risk

New York

The UK administrators of the collapsed brokerage MF Global expect to have closed out most of its trading positions by the middle of next week, though decisions about what to do with its 725-strong London staff will be put off until after that.

The task of unpicking MF Global's British operations has been made easier by recently introduced changes to bankruptcy procedures for financial firms, said Richard Fleming, one of the three accountants from KPMG who were appointed administrators when the company collapsed on Monday.

But a team of 30 staff has been assigned to smooth relations with financial exchanges, many of which locked out MF Global employees and froze positions when the US parent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. Persuading exchanges and clearing-houses to allow MF Global to complete its trading is vital if money is to be quickly returned to clients.

"We are barely one day in and we are right in the middle of the storm," Mr Fleming said. "But the vast majority of positions will be closed very quickly when we get systems working, probably by the end of this week or early next week."

MF Global's historic UK arm had about $20bn (£12bn) of assets when it went under, capsized by an extraordinary $6.3bn bet on eurozone sovereign debt that was placed with the company's own money from headquarters in New York. The company has its origins in a sugar-trading firm founded more than 200 years ago in London by James Man and it was only spun out of FTSE 100 constituent Man Group in 2007.

The London employees have been told they will receive their salaries this month and no one has been laid off so far. Mr Fleming said "we will need a good number of people for a good time to come", although redundancies are inevitable. MF Global is the first financial firm to be put into a Special Administration Regime, which orders administrators to prioritise the return of client assets and is designed to avoid a repeat of the fall-out from Lehman Brothers, whose collapse froze large parts of the financial system.

The administrators were due to have their first conference call with their US counterparts last night to examine the deep trading relationships between the transatlantic divisions. So far, there have been no indications of any disputes between the two about the ownership of assets, which bedevilled the wind-up of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Mr Fleming is also not expecting the UK arm to be affected by legal problems in the US, where the company has been accused of illegally dipping into client funds during its dying days.

MF Global's lawyers have said that management was not aware of any shortfall in client accounts and the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy hopes money will return to the US accounts as trading positions are closed. Some $600m is unaccounted for, according to some reports.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Digital Marketing Exec / Online Marketing Executive

£35 - 40k: Guru Careers: Our client has a new role for a Digital Marketing Exe...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'