Launching initially in Europe, Neptune is the latest in a string of U.S. and European attempts to make corporate-bond trading more efficient. Can the 12 founding banks make this one a success?
The project aims to become a one-stop destination for finding buyers and sellers of corporate bonds in a world where new platforms seemingly emerge every few months, according to these people, who said no single bank is leading the effort. Banks’ stockpiles of securities, known as inventories, have dwindled because a spate of new capital regulations has made it more expensive for them to hold as many bonds as they once did to fill client orders. The banks are set to pay £30,000 each ($48,000) for the first phase of consultancy work and blueprints on the scope of Neptune, which will take months to deliver and is initially planned for Europe. The network won’t be for executing trades, the people said. Rather, it will link up banks and investors in the market—and potentially some of the existing trading platforms they use—just as a mall would bring together several shops under one roof, said Stephane Malrait, global head of fixed-income e-commerce at Société Générale. AXA Investment Managers and Schroders SDR.LN -2.34% PLC also are involved in the discussions, executives at those firms said, alongside a dozen or so other money managers. Lee Sanders, head of execution at a unit of AXA in London, called the fixed-income market a “jigsaw puzzle,” adding that the way to make trading easier was “to find out who holds what.”