Playtech Expands, Pepperstone Transitions and Belgium Fines: Best of the Week

Playtech, FXCM, Pepperstone and Amana Capital all appeared in last week's top stories.

Last week saw FXCM distancing itself from the dire results of Global Brokerage, the Belgian authorities fining two brokerage firms over non-compliance, and Playtech acquiring Alpha as it continues to move into the fintech realm.

FXCM distances itself


As the stock of Global Brokerage Inc. (NASDAQ:GLBR) tumbled to a new record low earlier last week and it remarked on the possibly heavy consequences of its eventual delisting from the Nasdaq Stock Market, FXCM Group seems keen to protect its brand, issuing a corporate statement on Monday to clarify its relationship to Global Brokerage.

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FXCM claims that adverse developments at GLBR have no impact on it or its ability to service customers. More specifically, FXCM said that it has no responsibility for GLBR’s obligations and that its only debt is the loan to Leucadia, which it has recently taken one step closer to repaying with the sale of FastMatch.

Pepperstone transitions European clients

On Monday Finance Magnates reported that Australian forex broker Pepperstone will no longer be providing services to Europe-based clients, effective from the 8th of September. The firm has advised affected persons that they have until that date to close their positions.

The company cites “regulatory obligations” as the reason for the move. On its website, Pepperstone explains in a FAQ to clients: “As part of re-commencing Pepperstone UK operations, we are required to close all client accounts held with our Australian entity, Pepperstone Group Limited.”

European clients that are registered with the Australian subsidiary of Pepperstone will be permanently closed, and customers will have to submit new applications under the FCA-regulated subsidiary. Trading conditions for all clients will remain unchanged.

AvaTrade and iCFD fined 

On Wednesday, we broke the news that AvaTrade and iCFD have agreed to pay the Belgian financial authorities a total fine of €375,000, while claiming that this is not an admission of guilt.

In August last year, the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority took steps to introduce a ban on OTC forex, CFDs and binary options in the country. The FSMA states that neither AvaTrade nor iCFD submitted to the regulator any advertisement or other documents relating to public offers of CFDs.

The two firms will have to contact all of their Belgian clients to offer them the opportunity to terminate their trading accounts, and offer to reimburse their current balances. Both brokers have changed their websites to convey that their services are not intended for Belgian consumers.

Playtech acquires Alpha

On Wednesday we reported that technology developer Playtech is continuing its expansion into the world of fintech with the acquisition of certain assets of Alpha, a UK-based B2B market maker, dealer and broker also known as ACM Group.

The deal was announced via the London Stock Exchange. The cost was capped at $150 million and is to be executed in several stages, with a planned completion date of September 2017.

Playtech has created a new brand called TradeTech Group, with which it plans to consolidate its finance-focused assets. Under the terms of the deal, Alpha will become part of TradeTech Group under the brand name TradeTech Alpha, focusing on risk management and trading solutions to B2B customers.

Exclusive interview with heads of Playtech and Alpha

The following day, Finance Magnate talked to the two CEOs behind the deal in an exclusive interview. We discussed the advantages of the deal and its significance in today’s industry, what drew the two companies to each other, and if they were planning to offer cryptocurrency trading in the future.

Playtech reports positive results

To cap off this story, on the same day we published Playtech’s H1 results. The firm reported a substantial increase in revenues in that time period, a rise which was matched and bettered by its new financial division. The two entities rose by 25% and 44% respectively. Markets.com, which Playtech acquired in early 2015, also performed strongly, marking a 94% increase in first-time depositors year-on-year.

Amana Capital expands

On Thursday we exclusively reported that Amana Capital, an FCA-regulated brokerage, is planning to further expand its team in London. The firm recently launched its own education portal, TradeCaptain.com, led by a team of experienced professionals from London and the Middle East.

Commenting to Finance Magnates, Ziad Melhem, Chief Business Development Officer of Amana Capital, said: “We are experiencing major growth in our FCA-regulated operation and building on that with several plans. We’ve been very busy expanding the team in London and will be announcing soon key senior-level additions to the team.”

XTB releases half-year report

Finally, on Thursday, we reported on the release of XTB’s half-year financial report, which revealed a sharp increase in profitability with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) totalling $8.1 million (PLN 29.4 million) – a rise of 160 percent.

Revenues rose as net deposits, active accounts and CFD profitability per lot increased materially. Trading volumes remained flat, and marketing costs of XTB were cut materially from a year ago. XTB’s EBITDA margin was 44.5 percent, which is materially higher than last year’s 18.8 percent. Net profit margins increased more modestly to 23.4 percent when compared to 20.2 percent last year.

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