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Robert Sales
Robert Sales
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With One Eye On Brass, Spear Leeds & Kellogg Unveils EagleTrader

Spear Leeds & Kellogg is developing an equity trade order management (TOM) system that is expected to compete head-on with Automated Securities Clearance’s Brass—the leading TOM in the Nasdaq market.

Spear Leeds & Kellogg, a Nasdaq market maker and the operator of the Redibook electronic communications network (ECN), is developing an equity trade order management (TOM) system that is expected to eventually compete head on with Automated Securities Clearance’s (ASC) Brass—the leading TOM in the Nasdaq market. The system, dubbed EagleTrader and scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter, is being built by Eagle Software Products LLP—a Spear Leeds business unit that develops trading applications. Currently, EagleTrader is in beta tests at a quartet of firms.

Mike Appleby, a managing director of Spear Leeds and the head of Eagle Software, says that EagleTrader is being targeted at "Nasdaq retailers, Nasdaq wholesalers and medium-to-large-sized Nasdaq market makers." While declining to specify the firms that are currently testing the product, he says EagleTrader will go live before year-end. Moreover, Appleby says that by the second quarter of next year, Eagle Software plans to release a listed version of its TOM application.

In the immediate future, however, Spear Leeds appears to have its eye squarely on the business of Brass, which has a stable of roughly 150 U.S. broker/dealer clients and processes approximately 50% of Nasdaq’s daily trading volume. Like EagleTrader, Brass has a direct connection to an ECN. In Brass’ case, it’s the Brass Utility (Brut) ECN, which is expected to soon finalize its planned merger with fellow ECN Strike Technologies (ETW, 9/13/99). Brut, like Brass, is presently majority-owned by SunGard Data Systems, the Wayne, Pa.-based vendor that purchased ASC earlier this year (ETW, 3/15/99).

EagleTrader, of course, will provide a direct gateway to Spear Leeds’ Redibook ECN. However, while acknowledging that the EagleTrader/Redibook connection could potentially boost Redibook’s order flow, Appleby emphasizes that EagleTrader clients will be free to send orders to just about any ECN they want. "We are not obligated by Spear Leeds and Kellogg to favor any of their own internal efforts ... and we will go to all of the ECNs that are willing and able to take communications interfaces from us," he says.

Interestingly, though Appleby downplays EagleTrader’s potential assault on Brass’ turf, he concedes that Brut is the only one of the nine SEC-approved ECNs that EagleTrader will not initially provide an interface to. Primarily, he says that’s because Brut is a "somewhat enclosed system" that has "no interest in allowing the rest of the world in." However, Brut has in the past signed connectivity pacts with at least two ECNs: Datek Online’s Island (ETW, 6/14/99) and Strike.

Still, Appleby says that EagleTrader will take a very open approach toward routing orders to execution destinations. " If there’s sufficient demand for a destination, we’ll allow you to send orders there. We’ll also allow anyone to connect to us, but obviously in some cases we will charge transaction fees," he says. Appleby declines to get more specific about those fees.

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