Man Financial Signs Agreement With Refco as It Prepares to Bid

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    Man Financial Signs Agreement With Refco as It Prepares to Bid
    Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The futures brokerage unit of Man Group Plc, the world's biggest hedge fund company, signed a non- disclosure agreement with Refco Inc. as it prepares to make a bid for ``all or part'' of the bankrupt broker, spokesman Paul Downes said.

    Man Financial Inc. is competing with at least six other groups trying to buy Refco, including Merrill Lynch & Co., Leon Black's Apollo Management LLC, and a group led by the Dubai government and California billionaire Ronald Burkle. Refco was the biggest independent U.S. futures broker until it filed for bankruptcy Oct. 17 after saying former Chief Executive Officer Phillip Bennett hid $430 million of bad debt dating back to 1998. Bids are due Nov. 4.

    ``We are hopeful that, after a careful and thorough due diligence effort, we will be able to structure an attractive transaction for both companies,'' Kevin Davis, Man Financial's chief executive, said in an e-mailed statement today. ``We believe the combination of our businesses would create significant opportunities for clients and staff alike.''

    Man agreed not to disclose any information it gleans from examining Refco's financial records. At the same time, it agreed not to solicit customers or employees from Refco, according to a memo sent to Man brokers and published today by John Lothian, a Chicago-based Man broker who also runs an industry newsletter.

    Greenwich, Connecticut-based Interactive Brokers Group LLC, which offered $858 million for the business, and Chicago-based Tradelink LLC, a closely held futures brokerage, have also said they have signed non-disclosure agreements as they prepare rival bids.

    Bennett, 57, was arrested on Oct. 11 and charged the next day with securities fraud in Manhattan federal court. Bennett ``received no personal profits from this indebtedness'' and prosecutors handling the case ``jumped the gun'' by arresting him before conducting a full investigation, said his lawyer, Gary Naftalis, at a court hearing on Oct. 12.

    To contact the reporter on this story:
    Ann Saphir in Chicago at

    Last Updated: October 31, 2005 18:11 EST