First Options of Chicago

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First Options of Chicago, Inc. (FOC), formerly a leading options broker, was owned for most of its existence by controversial securities brokerage Spear Leeds and Kellogg (SLK), since taken over by Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs. SLK briefly sold and then repurchased FOC at a huge profit following the 1987 stock market crash.


First Options of Chicago, known as First Op, was founded by Edmund O'Connor and his brother William O'Connor to act as a broker for the new listed options markets created when the CBOE launched in 1973.[1][2]

First Options bought Brandt & Associates in 1986 and was at one time the largest clearer of options contracts in the U.S.[3]

Sold and bought[edit]

Owner Spear Leeds and Kellogg sold First Options of Chicago in 1986 to Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago for what observers considered the excessive sum of $125 million plus $35 million in subordianted debt.[4] At the time FOC was the number one provider of clearing services for stock options trading. In January, 1990 Continental Bank (later acquired by Bank of America) put FOC back on the market[5] and later that year sold it back to SLK for a mere $15 million and some future earnings. SLK later settled lawsuits accusing it of financial wrongdoing during and after the crashes of 1987 and 1989.

In 2004 First Options of Chicago became fully integrated into its original parent corporation and was renamed Spear Leeds & Kellogg, L.P.[6] One year later SLK was renamed by it parent company, Goldman Sachs, as Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing, L.P.[7]