Bankrupt MF Global forced back to manual record entry

Broker-dealer struggles with accounting as problematic data no longer fits systems

MF Global, which last month filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors, has been forced back to manual accounting processes in the UK, with staff abandoning its systems.

The high tech broker-dealer has defaulted on over thirty stock exchanges, leaving administrator KPMG rushing to manually enter the records, which no longer fit the requirements of the automated systems.

Meanwhile, uncertainty remains around the future of the company's IT staff, who built and ran many of the ultra fast electronic trading systems it depended on.

Around 300 processing and client reconciliation staff - under half of the company's former UK employee count - remain at the firm, and will do so over at least the coming few months as the company unwinds its positions. But it could take years to complete this process.

KPMG said in statement on Friday that the problematic positions had forced it to abandon automatic processing.

"The default of the company on over thirty exchanges as of today, means that there is a very large number of accounting entries to be made to bring the books and records up to date," it said.

"Whilst previously MFG UK's systems were able to process much of this automatically through electronic links to exchanges and banks, most records must now be processed manually."

KPMG said that nevertheless, "substantial progress" had been made in "closing and transferring positions, dealing with defaults on the exchanges, progressing the identification of segregated client monies, negotiating with the external institutions which hold client funds for their return and - importantly - exploring the possibility of making interim payments while the colossal task of identifying and reconciling clients positions is achieved".

Ascertaining exactly what is owed is problematic, and reports have quoted administrators as saying that over a billion dollars of client money may not have been located so far.

Today, JP Morgan agreed to buy all of MF Global's shareholding in the London Metal Exchange, a trading venue with a vital place on the global commodities market.

The future of the IT staff and systems at MF Global remains unclear. Speculation is rife as to whether other firms will be interested in acquiring some of the expertise and advanced technology that the firm had been dependent upon.

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