Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Project Turquoise gives it the hard sell

There was standing room only in the auditorium at the annual Finexpo event in London for the session on Project Turquoise presented by the MTF's CEO Eli Lederman.

After much fanfare and very little substance since the group of seven investment banks announced Project Turquoise back in 2006, Lederman seemed eager to dispel the notion that Turquoise was the mythical concoction of a bunch of investment bankers, rattling their sabres in the hope that the London Stock Exchange and others would reduce trading prices.

Well Project Turquoise has still not gone live, although Lederman was adamant that preparations for the launch date in September 2008 were well underway and that he was confident Turquoise would attract liquidity from day one. "We will have a lot of members, it is going to attract liquidity," Lederman kept repeating over and over.

And if that is not enough to convince those sceptics who are still doubtful as to whether Turquoise will get off the ground, Lederman was eager to stress that it had secured office premises. "We don't have marble steps or vaulted ceilings, but this is a modern exchange," he said.

Project Turquoise has chosen Swedish technology provider Cinnober (they also built Project Boat)to build its trading platform and Progress Apama is providing the CEP engine for the MTF's market surveillance system. But Lederman was short on the details regarding the trading platform. All he would say is that it will be an "integrated transparent order book with a dark pool."

It seems that the launch date for Project Turquoise may also be a moving target, as Lederman said that it was not focused on the date alone and that it was keen to implement a trading platform that was not a "monolithic purpose built system."

Yet, despite Lederman's efforts to reassure the market that Project Turquoise is "moving full steam ahead," anyone who has observed the Project Turquoise "showboat" for the past couple of years will probably be inclined to say, the proof is in the pudding. And after talking it up so much, almost to the point of evangelizing, Lederman better hope the pudding is worth eating.

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