Virtu Financial Inc.

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Virtu Financial Inc.
Virtu Financial Logo.gif
Founded 2008
Headquarters New York
Key People Vincent Viola, Executive Chairman; Douglas Cifu, CEO
Products Proprietary trading and market making
LinkedIn Profile

Virtu Financial Inc. is an electronic trading firm and market maker in equities, fixed income, currencies and commodities. Virtu and its affiliates are members of the NYSE Euronext, NASDAQ, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and more than 25 other exchanges and market centers around the world.

Virtu was founded in 2008 by former NYMEX chairman Vincent Viola and quickly became one of the top high-frequency trading companies. In May 2011, the firm merged with electronic trading firm Madison Tyler, with an investment by private equity firm Silver Lake Management LLC.[1][2]

About 27 percent of its trading income in 2013 came from U.S. equities, with 23 percent coming from global commodities and 20 percent from global currencies. The rest came from equities in Asia and Europe, as well as trading in options, fixed income and other securities.[3]

Virtu completed an initial public offering on April 16, 2015. The company, which listed under the ticker symbol 'VIRT', saw its shares jump nearly 20 percent after the IPO, from an initial price of $19 a share to more than $22 a share.[4] [5] The company raised more than $300 million.[6]


In late 2011, Virtu was ranked as one of the five largest high frequency traders of equities in Europe.[7]

In late 2012, Virtu Financial and Getco LLC both made takeover offers to Knight Capital Group Inc. (KCG) after a glitch in one of Knight's trading algorithms cost the firm $440 million loss.[8][9] In December 2012, Knight went with the Getco offer of $1.4 billion, or $3.75 a share.[10]

On March 10, 2014, Virtu filed for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise up to $100 million.[11] In the filing, Virtu said it had earned $182.2 million in net income in 2013 on revenue of $664.5 million, representing a 108% increase in profits from the year before, and that it had earned money every day but one in the last five years.[12] It also disclosed in the filing that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating Virtu’s “participation in certain incentive programs offered by exchanges or venues” from July 2011 to November 2013.

The owners of Virtu Financial, including Vincent Viola and Silver Lake, said they would not sell their shares. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP were the managers of the sale.[13]

Virtu's IPO filing marked it as the first ever initial public offering by a global high-frequency trading firm that trades only with its own money.[14]

In April 2014, Virtu said it would delay its IPO indefinitely. The delay came as a media frenzy developed over the publication of Michael Lewis' latest book, "Flash Boys," which accused high-speed traders and exchanges of "rigging" the U.S. stock markets.[15] In late April, Virtu received a letter of inquiry from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is investigating whether high-speed traders are breaking any laws by acting on nonpublic information.[16] The FBI is also involved in the investigations.[17]

The company revived its plans in February 2015, as the media furor over "Flash Boys" appeared to have died down, and in April submitted a new filing. [18] The IPO was completed on April 16.

Virtu acquired its rival KCG Holdings Inc. in July of 2017 for $1.4 billion, uniting two of the biggest market makers. Virtu paid $20 per share in cash for KCG and funded the transaction by selling $1.65 billion in debt and $750 million of stock. [19] [20] [21] The acquisition gave Virtu control of 20 per cent of all US stock trading.[22]

In March 2019 Virtu acquired Investment Technology Group Inc. (ITG) for nearly $1 billion. The deal was aimed at stabilizing quarterly earnings and bringing in more revenue from technology and execution services. [23][24] As part of the deal for ITG, Virtu also acquired MATCHNow, Canada’s largest dark pool stock trading platform.[25]

In April 2019 Virtu Financial announced a new partnership with MarketAxess to provide the two firm’s mutual client base with trading tools and access to global ETFs and fixed income securities. [26] In the first quarter of 2020, Virtu rolled out its eNAV ETF analytics tool enhanced with MarketAxess’ Composite+, an AI-powered algorithmic pricing engine for corporate and emerging market bonds.[27]

In September 2021, Virtu became a strategic investor in ClearList, a digital-trading venture that links investors to private companies before they go public.[28] [29]

Virtu and the SEC[edit]

On November 29, 2022, Virtu announced that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to compel the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to provide information about its rulemaking process and the interactions of the SEC chair with interested parties. Virtu had submitted a FOIA request in June 2022 and said that, after nearly six months of FOIA requests, the SEC had failed to produce a single responsive document.[30]

In late July of 2023, Virtu said it expected to be sued by the SEC after both parties failed to settle a dispute over the firm’s safeguards for trading data. Virtu said in a filing that the SEC had pointed to its “information barriers policies and procedures” and sent a Wells Notice indicating a lawsuit was likely.[31] Virtu said it intended to defend itself vigorously.[32]

The SEC sued Virtu on September 12, 2023 for allegedly giving misleading statements and omitting information about its protections against the potential misuse of sensitive customer information. The lawsuit said a database containing post-trade information generated from customer orders through Virtu’s institutional business was accessible via two widely-known passwords to “practically anyone” at Virtu Americas — including in its proprietary trading business.[33] The SEC’s lawsuit seeks a fine as well as repayment of profits linked to the allegedly unsuitable information barriers.[34]

Key People[edit]


  1. Silver Lake Backs Virtu/Madison Tyler Merger. Mergers & Acquisitions.
  2. Virtu Announces Merger with Madison Tyler and Strategic Growth Investment from Silver Lake. Virtu.
  3. High-Speed Firm Virtu Revives IPO Plans. The Wall Street Journal.
  4. High-speed trader Virtu seeks $361m in US IPO. The Financial Times.
  5. Speed Trader Virtu Readies Another IPO Try. The Wall Street Journal.
  6. Virtu IPO Tests Perceptions of High-Speed Trading. The Wall Street Journal.
  7. Europe’s top 10 high-frequency kingmakers (in Scandinavia, at least). Financial News.
  8. Knight Capital shares sink after algorithm glitch. MarketWatch.
  9. Knight Board Said Meeting Next Week to Study Getco, Virtu Offers. Bloomberg.
  10. Getco to buy Knight Capital in $1.4 billion deal. Reuters.
  11. Trading firm Virtu Financial plans to raise up to $100 million in IPO. Reuters.
  12. High-Speed Trading Firm Tries Charm Offensive. The Wall Street Journal.
  13. Virtu Filing Shines Light on High-Frequency Trading. Bloomberg.
  14. Virtu admits weakness on expense accounting. Financial Times.
  15. Virtu Said to Delay IPO Amid Furor Spurred by Michael Lewis Book. Bloomberg.
  16. NY attorney general seeks info from high-speed firm Virtu: source. Reuters.
  17. Virtu Financial delays IPO amid Flash Boys furore. The Financial Times.
  18. Virtu seeks valuation of $2.59 billion. MarketWatch.
  19. KCG Acquisition by Virtu Completes. The Trade News.
  20. Virtu Agrees to Buy Speed-Trading Rival KCG for $1.4 Billion. Bloomberg.
  21. Virtu Financial Makes Bid To Acquire KCG Holdings. WSJ.
  22. Virtu's Viola seals biggest deal with military precision. The Financial Times.
  23. Virtu Financial to Buy Brokerage ITG in Almost $1 Billion Deal. The Wall Street Journal.
  24. Virtu closes $1 billion ITG acquisition. The Trade.
  25. Cboe to buy Virtu's MATCHNow dark pool to expand into Canada. Reuters.
  26. Virtu Financial and MarketAxess join forces on global ETF and fixed income project. The Trade News.
  27. Virtu Links With MarketAxess For ETF Analytics. MarketsMedia.
  28. Market Maker Virtu Backs Venture for Trading Private Stocks. Bloomberg.
  29. Virtu Makes Strategic Investment in ClearList. Yahoo News.
  30. Virtu Financial Announces Commencement of Lawsuit Against the Securities and Exchange Commission to Compel Compliance with Freedom of Information Act Request. Virtu.
  31. Virtu Financial FORM 10-Q.
  32. Virtu Is Bracing for SEC Lawsuit After Settlement Talks Fail. Bloomberg.
  33. SEC accuses Virtu of failing to protect client trade information. The Financial Times.
  34. SEC Sues Market-Maker Virtu, Alleging Leakage of Customer Information. The Wall Street Journal.