The Company operates as a financial services group focusing on select international markets, committing its capital and expertise to market-making and trading of financial instruments, currencies and commodities, and to asset management. The Company’s activities are divided into five functional areas - international equities market-making, foreign exchange trading, commodities trading, international debt capital markets and asset management.
The Company provides execution to its customers in the following products:
unlisted American Depository Receipts (“ADRs”) and common shares of over 8,800 companies in over 20 countries
more than 100 currencies
base and precious metals, offering complete physical, hedging and investment solutions
The Company provides these services to a diverse group of wholesale customers including major investment banks, commercial banks, brokers, institutional investors, corporations, charities, governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations located throughout the world.
INTL originates, structures and places in the international and domestic capital markets a wide array of emerging market debt instruments, including complex asset backed securities, commercial loans, unsecured bonds and notes, and trade-related debt instruments used in cross-border trade finance and project finance transactions.
Through its asset management activities, INTL leverages its specialist expertise in its niche markets to provide institutional investors with unique investment products. All of our products share a similar philosophy of absolute return performance with low volatility and low correlation to the underlying markets, under normal market conditions.
The Company was formed in October 1987 and during the 2009 fiscal year conducted operations through a number of wholly-owned operating subsidiaries and joint ventures. Before the FCStone transaction, the Company had 193 employees in nine offices in the United States of America, Argentina, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Dubai and Singapore.
In the Company’s business, purchases of individual securities, currencies, commodities or derivative instruments may be from single or multiple customers or counterparties. These purchases may be covered by a matching sale to a customer or counterparty or may be aggregated with other purchases to provide liquidity intraday, for a number of days or, in some cases, particularly the base metals business, even longer periods of time (during which market values may fluctuate). Sales of individual securities, currencies, commodities or derivative instruments may also be to single or multiple customers or counterparties. They may be made from inventory, they may be covered by a simultaneous and matching purchase in the market or they may represent a short sale and be covered by a later purchase in the market.
While the Company is able to track the number and dollar amount of individual transactions with each customer, this information is not a reliable indicator of revenues because it is not necessarily proportional to revenues or profitability. Depending on the nature of the instrument traded, market conditions and timing of a transaction, revenues and profitability may differ widely from trade to trade and from customer to customer.
International Equities Market-Making
The Company is a leading U.S. market-maker in unlisted ADRs and foreign common shares. The Company conducts these activities through INTL Trading, Inc. (“INTL Trading”), a broker-dealer regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”). INTL Trading provides execution services and liquidity to national broker-dealers, regional broker-dealers and institutional investors. The Company focuses on those international equities in which the Company can use its expertise and experience to provide customers with competitive execution and superior service. The Company also utilizes its proprietary technology, including internet technology, to achieve these goals.
The Company makes markets in approximately 800 ADRs and foreign ordinary shares traded in the over-the-counter (“OTC”) market. In addition, the Company will, on request, make prices in more than 8,000 other ADRs and foreign common shares. As a market-maker, the Company provides trade execution services by offering to buy shares from, or sell shares to, broker-dealers and institutions. The Company displays the prices at which it is willing to buy and sell these securities and adjusts its prices in response to market conditions. When acting as principal, the Company commits its own capital and derives revenue from the difference between the prices at which the Company buys and sells shares. The Company also earns commissions by executing trades on an agency basis.
While the Company’s customers are other broker-dealers and institutions, the business tends to be driven by the needs of the private clients of those broker-dealers and institutions. The size of private client trades may be uneconomical for the in-house international equities trading desks of our customers to execute. The Company is able to provide execution of smaller trades at profitable margins.
Foreign Exchange Trading
The Company trades over 100 currencies, with a concentration on select, illiquid currencies of developing countries. The Company has an extensive global correspondent network that provides access to these currencies at competitive rates. The Company’s target customers are financial institutions, multi-national corporations, governmental and charitable organizations operating in and transferring funds to or from these developing countries. In addition, the Company executes trades based on the foreign currency flows inherent in the Company’s other international activities.
The Company primarily acts as a principal in buying and selling foreign currencies on a spot basis. The Company derives revenue from the difference between the purchase and sale prices.
The Company periodically holds foreign currency positions for longer periods to create liquidity for customers or to generate proprietary earnings.
The Company’s foreign exchange activities in fiscal 2009 were conducted through INTL Global Currencies Ltd. (“INTL Global Currencies”), a wholly-owned subsidiary domiciled in the United Kingdom.
The Company’s commodities trading activities encompass the trading of physical metals such as gold, silver and platinum group metals as well as certain base metals, mainly lead and copper. The Company has relationships with a number of small and medium-sized metals producers, refiners, recyclers, traders and manufacturing entities, and provides them with a full range of physical metals trading and hedging capabilities. The Company is also active in the acquisition of scrap metals which are refined under contract and sold to our customers.
The Company provides customers with sophisticated option products, including combinations of buying and selling puts and calls. The Company assists its customers in protecting the value of their future production by selling them put options or making forward purchases on an OTC basis. The Company mitigates its risks by effecting offsetting option trades with market counterparties or through the purchase or sale of exchange-traded commodities futures.
The Company commits its own capital to buy and sell precious and base metals on a spot and forward basis and will regularly hold inventories in these metals. The Company derives revenue from the difference between the purchase and sale prices.
The Company generally mitigates the price risk associated with its commodities inventory through the use of exchange-traded derivatives. This price risk mitigation does not generally qualify for hedge accounting under generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). In such situations, unrealized gains in inventory are not recognized under GAAP, but unrealized gains and losses in related derivative positions are recognized under GAAP. Additionally, GAAP does not require us to reflect changes in estimated values of forward commitments to purchase and sell commodities. As a result, the Company’s reported commodities trading earnings are subject to significant volatility.
The Company’s commodities trading activities are conducted through wholly owned subsidiaries, INTL Commodities, Inc., incorporated in the state of Delaware, USA, INTL Commodities Mexico S de RL de CV, incorporated in Mexico, INTL Commodities DMCC, incorporated in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and INTL Asia Pte. Ltd., incorporated in Singapore. INTL Commodities, Inc. has a branch office in London.