Questions about Refco

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by lmn, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. lmn


    Did not get any reply at other places; hopefully I would have some answers here.

    Obviously the recent problems at Refco have been discussed a lot, but I am still SO puzzled by so many issues. Can anyone please offer any views about the following matters?

    1. Two phases often mentioned are the regulated and unregulated businesses of Refco. What do they really refer to? Apparently, Refco Capital Markets Ltd, an unregulated unit which accounted for more than half of the whole group's profits, was at the centre of the issue. Can anyone please provide a summary of what had happened there?

    2. Is it true that most bids so far are for the regulated units? Why are potential buyers not interested in the unregulated ones?

    3. From the materials I have read, Refco became a big player by brokering commodity futures, but it also seemed prominent in FX and financial futures markets. Is this correct? Moreover, many trading arcades in the UK were said to clear through Refco; do the recent problems affect them?

    4. The events have struck me as happening at a very fast pace. On Monday 10/10/05 people first heard about the accounting fraud. It was a serious problem, but judging from Refco's market capitalisation at that time, the $430m non-collectable debt should not have been fatal. Yet within a week the company had filed for bankruptcy. What dragged Refco down?

    5. Even though I am not a customer of Refco, the debacle is quite unnerving as it prompts the questions about broker selecting and risk diversification. In particular, what should one look for when searching for a broker? CFTC registration and NFA membership helps, but is that enough? Should one also check a broker's reputation? Or is it one step too far?

    Another thing that has struck me is the numerous online discussions when the problems at Refco first emerged. There was a huge debate on whether the customers should withdraw their funds. I would have run in the first opportunity, but many seemed to believe differently. Then, one day they still said there was enough liquidity to run the company, the next day (14/10/05?) they froze customers' accounts.

    I am a hard-core cynic and the whole thing simply adds to my belief. When Refco went public in August, its accounts were examined by its auditor and three lead underwriters. Grant Thornton, its auditor, claimed they had no previous knowledge about the fraudulent debts, but I cannot shake off the feeling that Wall Street would sell anything to anyone for a fee.

    Finally, I wonder how this is going to affect the futures industry as I am a futures trader. The fiasco has been called the Enron in the futures industry. The fall of Enron destroyed the energy trading business; would Refco affect the whole industry?

  2. =========
    Looks like all the panic sellers got out of the CME the first day;
    not long or short CME at this time,
    CME still looks like a strong uptrend.

    Not prejudging the case, but alleged fraud is pretty serious for any financial related co;
    and reguardless of whether it was, or not, it happened so close to IPO, which is more risky anyway.

    Dont underestimate amazing short RFX/ NYSE delisting;
    even more so,compared to lengthy DAL[DALR-Delta Airlines delist]
    Another clue.

  3. wonder who the next to go is?

    heard rumors that there were problems over at Global Futures (

    something about a bunch of wild attitude children parading around like brokers, compliance officers and such....

  4. All of your questions can be easily answered by reading the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.

    Seriously, in the time that it took you to post this message, ALL of your answers could have been answered by just reading several newspapers, or by doing a search on ET where several posters have posted copies of recent newspaper articles.
  5. What are the chances that RFXCQ stock will still be worth something? If they can get $1B each for the other divisions, that'll be pretty close to its market cap last week. Not sure how much debt has yet to be discovered, though.
  6. MartinS


    problems with Global futures ?

    reason to go somewhere else ?