Exante, the Portomaso-based integrated brokerage and fund platform firm, is to grow its Malta team and is preparing to open an office in London. Bitcoin lives in the internet – you cannot ban what lives in the internet The next-generation prime broker, currently also present in Russia and Singapore with an international team of more than 60, is in the throes of accelerated growth. Established in Malta in 2011, last year it experienced growth of 1,000 per cent in assets and revenue, and similar growth is expected this year. “We experienced growth in just two years,” one of the managing partners, Gatis Eglitis, told The Sunday Times of Malta.
“In London, we hope to establish a team of 10 to 15 people. We currently have 20 people on the Malta staff and we are seeking to recruit another six.” Born from necessity, Exante brings innovation and sophistication to Malta’s funds industry. Mr Eglitis and his associates, all with trading backgrounds, were managing some hedge funds and could not find the technologically advanced service provider they needed. They set about building their own platform for global execution with very high speeds and a presence on most exchanges. Friends became the platform’s first customers and the set-up developed into Exante. Its key advantage is its business model – it blends multi-asset fund support with trade execution services using sophisticated technologies, which enables clients to reduce lead times and benefit from counterparty relationships established and nurtured by Exante. “We call ourselves a next-generation prime broker because of the uniqueness of our infrastructure,” Mr Eglitis explained.
“We can set up a company within one day – our closest competitors can take up to six weeks. No other company in the world can do that for all markets. Our customers can plug into whichever gateway in the world and start trading from day one in all products – stocks, futures, options – from one account. Our greatest values are speed, efficiency and customer-orientation.” Exante targets high net-worth individuals and institutional clients including banks, brokerages and hedge funds, and currently has around 200 customers in total. New products, including access facilities to new markets, are designed according to Exante’s own customer demand trends. Mr Eglitis says the business will grow as it continues to seek new markets and innovate. Its representatives recently returned from successful business trips in Libya, Colombia and South Africa. Last October, Exante launched its Bitcoin Fund to take advantage of using the virtual currency and to satisfy investor and manager demand for an investment vehicle for bitcoin placements. In just six months, bitcoin value has rocketed from $6 (€4.6) to just under $150 (€115) and usage and acceptance online is gaining ground, despite some attacks on online services and exchanges dealing in bitcoin.
Mr Eglitis says Exante is undeterred. Current assets under management in the Bitcoin Fund are $3.2 million (€2.5m) with others of considerable value lined up. “Bitcoin is growing really fast,” he said. “There are several reasons why it should survive. It is not currency – it is technology. It lives in the internet, so to speak, and you cannot ban what lives in the internet. And there is limited supply. Besides, bitcoins allow for complete transparency: every transaction is traceable.” Latvian Gatis Eglitis has a diverse background. He has two Master’s in international economics and finance from the University of Latvia and Copenhagen Business School. After a stint as technical director of the National Theatre of Latvia, he established his own accountancy firm before moving to Saxo Bank in Denmark while he studied in 2006. Mr Eglitis said his four-year career at the bank, which pioneered the internet trading platform, helped him gain management and brokerage experience. Now, to recognise the best in the funds industry, Exante’s five managing partners are organising the first Exante Awards with a ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon on May 25.