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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

FOR ANNUAL AND TRANSITION REPORTS PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d)

OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to                      

Commission File Number: 0-28191

 

BGC Partners, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

13-4063515

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

 

499 Park Avenue, New York, NY

 

10022

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

(212) 610-2200

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, $0.01 par value

 

BGCP

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market, LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large Accelerated Filer

Accelerated Filer

Non-accelerated Filer

Smaller Reporting Company

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.    

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based upon the closing price of the Class A common stock on June 30, 2020 as reported on NASDAQ, was approximately $836,497,422.

Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.

On February 25, 2021, the registrant had 323,716,736 shares of Class A common stock, $0.01 par value, and 45,884,380 shares of Class B common stock, $0.01 par value, outstanding.

 

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE.

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2021 annual meeting of stockholders (the “2021 Proxy Statement”) are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We anticipate that we will file the 2021 Proxy Statement with the SEC on or before April 30, 2021.

 

 


BGC Partners, Inc.

2020 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS, ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

 

2

 

 

SPECIAL NOTE ON FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

 

10

 

 

RISK FACTOR SUMMARY

 

10

 

 

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 1.

 

BUSINESS

 

12

ITEM 1A.

 

RISK FACTORS

 

34

ITEM 1B.

 

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

69

ITEM 2.

 

PROPERTIES

 

69

ITEM 3.

 

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

69

ITEM 4.

 

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

 

69

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 5.

 

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

70

ITEM 6.

 

SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

 

77

ITEM 7.

 

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

78

ITEM 7A.

 

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

 

124

ITEM 8.

 

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

 

126

ITEM 9.

 

CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE

 

213

ITEM 9A.

 

CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

 

213

ITEM 9B.

 

OTHER INFORMATION

 

213

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 10.

 

DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

 

214

ITEM 11.

 

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

 

214

ITEM 12.

 

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS

 

214

ITEM 13.

 

CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE

 

214

ITEM 14.

 

PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES

 

214

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM 15.

 

EXHIBITS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES

 

215

ITEM 16.

 

FORM 10-K SUMMARY

 

220

 

 

 



 

 

GLOSSARY OF TERMS, ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

The following terms, abbreviations and acronyms are used to identify frequently used terms and phrases in this report:

 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

2019 Promissory Note

BGC U.S. OpCo’s $300.0 million principal amount promissory note, issued as of December 9, 2014 to the Company in relation to the 5.375% Senior Notes and assumed by Newmark OpCo in connection with the Separation, which was repaid on November 23, 2018

 

 

2042 Promissory Note

BGC U.S. OpCo’s $112.5 million principal amount promissory note, issued as of June 26, 2012 to the Company in relation to the 8.125% Senior Notes and assumed by Newmark OpCo in connection with the Separation, which was repaid on September 5, 2018

 

 

3.750% Senior Notes

The Company’s $300.0 million principal amount of 3.750% senior notes maturing on October 1, 2024 and issued on September 27, 2019

 

 

4.375% Senior Notes

The Company’s $300.0 million principal amount of 4.375% senior notes maturing on December 15, 2025 and issued on July 10, 2020

 

 

5.125% Senior Notes

The Company’s original $300.0 million principal amount of 5.125% senior notes maturing on May 27, 2021 and issued on May 27, 2016, of which $44.0 million was redeemed through a cash tender offer by the Company on August 14, 2020

 

 

5.375% Senior Notes

The Company’s $450.0 million principal amount of 5.375% senior notes maturing on July 24, 2023 and issued on July 24, 2018

 

 

8.125% Senior Notes

The Company’s $112.5 million principal amount of 8.125% senior notes due 2042, issued on June 26, 2012, which were repaid on September 5, 2018

 

 

8.375% Senior Notes

 

The Company’s $240.0 million principal amount of GFI 8.375% senior notes due July 2018, assumed by BGC in connection with the GFI Merger, which were repaid on July 19, 2018

 

 

Adjusted Earnings

A non-GAAP financial measure used by the Company to evaluate financial performance, which primarily excludes (i) certain non-cash items and other expenses that generally do not involve the receipt or outlay of cash and do not dilute existing stockholders, and (ii) certain gains and charges that management believes do not best reflect the ordinary results of BGC

 

 

Algomi

Algomi Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on March 6, 2020

 

 

API

Application Programming Interface

 

 

April 2008 distribution rights shares

Cantor’s deferred stock distribution rights provided to current and former Cantor partners on April 1, 2008

 

 

April 2017 Sales Agreement

CEO sales agreement, by and between the Company and CF&Co, dated April 12, 2017, pursuant to which the Company offered and sold an aggregate of 20 million shares of BGC Class A common stock

 

 

Aqua

Aqua Securities L.P., an alternative electronic trading platform, which offers new pools of block liquidity to the global equities markets and is a 49%-owned equity method investment of the Company and 51% owned by Cantor

 

 

ASC

Accounting Standards Codification

 

 

ASU

Accounting Standards Update

 

 

Audit Committee

Audit Committee of the Board

 

 

BEAT

Base Erosion and Anti-abuse Tax

 

 

Berkeley Point

Berkeley Point Financial LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company acquired on September 8, 2017 and contributed to Newmark in the Separation

 

 

Besso

Besso Insurance Group Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on February 28, 2017

2


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

 

 

BGC

BGC Partners, Inc. and, where applicable, its consolidated subsidiaries

 

 

BGC or our Class A common stock

BGC Partners Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

 

BGC or our Class B common stock

BGC Partners Class B common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

 

BGC Credit Agreement

Agreement between the Company and Cantor, dated March 19, 2018, that provides for each party or its subsidiaries to borrow up to $250.0 million, as amended on August 6, 2018 to increase the facility to $400.0 million

 

 

BGC Financial or BGCF

BGC Financial, L.P

 

 

BGC Global OpCo

BGC Global Holdings, L.P., an operating partnership, which is owned jointly by BGC and BGC Holdings and holds the non-U.S. businesses of BGC

 

 

BGC Group

BGC, BGC Holdings, and BGC U.S. OpCo, and their respective subsidiaries (other than, prior to the Spin-Off, the Newmark Group), collectively

 

 

BGC Holdings

BGC Holdings, L.P., an entity owned by Cantor, Founding Partners, BGC employee partners and, after the Separation, Newmark employee partners

 

 

BGC Holdings Distribution

Pro-rata distribution, pursuant to the Separation and Distribution Agreement, by BGC Holdings to its partners of all of the exchangeable limited partnership interests of Newmark Holdings owned by BGC Holdings immediately prior to the distribution, completed on the Distribution Date

 

 

BGC OpCos

BGC U.S. OpCo and BGC Global OpCo, collectively

 

 

BGC Partners

BGC Partners, Inc. and, where applicable, its consolidated subsidiaries

 

 

BGC U.S. OpCo

BGC Partners, L.P., an operating partnership, which is owned jointly by BGC and BGC Holdings and holds the U.S. businesses of BGC

 

 

Board

Board of Directors of the Company

 

 

Brexit

Exit of the U.K. from the EU

 

 

Cantor

Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. and, where applicable, its subsidiaries

 

 

Cantor group

Cantor and its subsidiaries other than BGC Partners

 

 

Cantor units

Limited partnership interests of BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings held by the Cantor group, which units are exchangeable into shares of BGC Class A common stock or BGC Class B common stock, or Newmark Class A common stock or Newmark Class B common stock, as applicable

 

 

CCRE

Cantor Commercial Real Estate Company, L.P.

 

 

CECL

Current Expected Credit Losses

 

 

CEO Program

Controlled equity offering program

 

 

CF&Co

Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., a wholly owned broker-dealer subsidiary of Cantor

 

 

CFGM

CF Group Management, Inc., the general partner of Cantor

 

 

CFS

Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, a wholly owned broker-dealer subsidiary of Cantor

 

 

CFTC

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

 

 

Charity Day

BGC’s annual event held on September 11th where employees of the Company raise proceeds for charity

 

 

Class B Issuance

Issuance by BGC of 10,323,366 and 712,907 shares of BGC Class B common stock to Cantor and CFGM, respectively, in exchange for 11,036,273 shares of BGC Class A common stock under the Exchange Agreement, completed on November 23, 2018

3


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

 

 

CLOB

Central Limit Order Book

 

 

CME

CME Group Inc., the company that acquired NEX in November 2018

 

 

Company

BGC Partners, Inc. and, where applicable, its consolidated subsidiaries

 

 

Company Debt Securities

The 5.125% Senior Notes, 5.375% Senior Notes, 3.750% Senior Notes, 4.375% Senior Notes and any future debt securities issued by the Company

 

 

Compensation Committee

Compensation Committee of the Board

 

 

Contribution Ratio

Equal to a BGC Holdings limited partnership interest multiplied by one, divided by 2.2 (or 0.4545)

 

 

Converted Term Loan

BGC’s term loan in an aggregate principal amount of $400.0 million entered into on November 22, 2017 in conversion of its then-outstanding borrowings under its revolving credit facility, which Converted Term Loan was assumed by Newmark in connection with the Separation and was repaid on November 6, 2018

 

 

Corant

Corant Global Limited, the proposed holding company for all insurance interests of BGC Partners, Inc, subject to regulatory consent; comprises its broking operations of Ed Broking, Besso, Piiq Risk Partners and Junge as well as the group’s managing general agents Cooper Gay, Globe Underwriting and Epsilon

 

 

COVID-19

Coronavirus Disease 2019

 

 

CRD

Capital Requirements Directive

 

 

Credit Facility

A $150.0 million credit facility between the Company and an affiliate of Cantor entered into on April 21, 2017, which was terminated on March 19, 2018

 

 

CSC

CSC Commodities UK Limited

 

 

Distribution Date

November 30, 2018, the date that BGC and BGC Holdings completed the Spin-Off and the BGC Holdings Distribution, respectively

 

 

Dodd-Frank Act

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

 

 

ECB

European Central Bank

 

 

Ed Broking

Ed Broking Group Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on January 31, 2019

 

 

EMIR

European Market Infrastructure Regulation

 

 

EPS

Earnings Per Share

 

 

EPUs

Exchangeable preferred limited partnership units, issued by Newmark OpCo in June 2018 and September 2018 in the Newmark OpCo Preferred Investments, and entitled to a preferred payable-in-kind dividend

 

 

Equity Plan

Seventh Amended and Restated Long Term Incentive Plan, approved by the Company’s stockholders at the annual meeting of stockholders on June 22, 2016

 

 

ESG

Environmental, social and governance

 

 

eSpeed

Various assets comprising the Fully Electronic portion of the Company’s former benchmark on-the-run U.S. Treasury brokerage, market data and co-location service businesses, sold to Nasdaq on June 28, 2013

 

 

ETR

Effective Tax Rate

 

 

EU

European Union

 

 

Exchange Act

Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended

 

 

4


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

Exchange Agreement

A letter agreement by and between BGC Partners and Cantor and CFGM, dated June 5, 2015, that grants Cantor and CFGM the right to exchange shares of BGC Class A common stock into shares of BGC Class B common stock on a one-to-one basis up to the limits described therein

 

 

Exchange Ratio

Ratio by which a Newmark Holdings limited partnership interest can be exchanged for shares of Newmark Class A or Class B common stock

 

 

FASB

Financial Accounting Standards Board

 

 

FCA

 

FCM

Financial Conduct Authority of the U.K.

 

Futures Commission Merchant

 

 

February 2012 distribution rights shares

Cantor’s deferred stock distribution rights provided to current and former Cantor partners on February 14, 2012

 

 

Fenics

BGC’s group of electronic brands, offering a number of market infrastructure and connectivity services, Fully Electronic marketplaces, and the Fully Electronic brokerage of certain products that also may trade via Voice and Hybrid execution, including market data and related information services, Fully Electronic brokerage, connectivity software, compression and other post-trade services, analytics related to financial instruments and markets, and other financial technology solutions

 

 

FINRA

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

 

 

Founding Partners

Individuals who became limited partners of BGC Holdings in the mandatory redemption of interests in Cantor in connection with the 2008 separation and merger of Cantor’s BGC division with eSpeed, Inc. (provided that members of the Cantor group and Howard W. Lutnick (including any entity directly or indirectly controlled by Mr. Lutnick or any trust with respect to which he is a grantor, trustee or beneficiary) are not founding partners) and became limited partners of Newmark Holdings in the Separation

 

 

Founding/Working Partners

Holders of FPUs

 

 

FPUs

Founding/Working Partners units in BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings that are generally redeemed upon termination of employment

 

 

Freedom

Freedom International Brokerage Company, a 45%-owned equity method investment of the Company

 

 

Fully Electronic

Broking transactions intermediated on a solely electronic basis rather than by Voice or Hybrid Broking

 

 

FX

Foreign exchange

 

 

GDPR

General Data Protection Regulation

 

 

GFI

GFI Group Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on January 12, 2016

 

 

GFI Merger

Acquisition of GFI by a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company pursuant to the GFI Merger Agreement, completed on January 12, 2016 after BGC’s acquisition of Jersey Partners, Inc., GFI’s largest shareholder

 

 

GFI Merger Agreement

Agreement in connection with the GFI Merger, dated December 22, 2015

 

 

GILTI

Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income

 

 

Ginga Petroleum

Ginga Petroleum (Singapore) Pte Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on March 12, 2019

 

 

GUI

Graphical User Interface

 

 

HDUs

LPUs with capital accounts, which are liability awards recorded in “Accrued compensation” in the Company’s statements of financial condition

 

 

Hybrid

Broking transactions executed by brokers and involving some element of Voice Broking and electronic trading

 

 

5


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

ICAP

ICAP plc, a part of TP ICAP group, and a leading markets operator and provider of execution and information services

 

 

ICE

Intercontinental Exchange

 

 

IMO

Initial Margin Optimization

 

 

Incentive Plan

The Company’s Second Amended and Restated Incentive Bonus Compensation Plan, approved by the Company’s stockholders at the annual meeting of stockholders on June 6, 2017

 

 

Intercompany Credit Agreement

Agreement between the Company and Newmark entered into on December 13, 2017 that provided for each party to issue revolving loans to the other party in the lender’s discretion, as amended March 19, 2018

 

 

Investment in Newmark

Purchase of 16.6 million Newmark Holdings limited partnership units for $242.0 million by BGC Partners and BGC U.S. OpCo on March 7, 2018

 

 

Legacy BGC Holdings Units

BGC Holdings LPUs outstanding immediately prior to the Separation

 

 

Legacy Newmark Holdings Units

Newmark Holdings LPUs issued in connection with the Separation

 

 

LGD

Loss Given Default

 

 

LIBOR

London Interbank Offering Rate

 

 

LPUs

Certain limited partnership units in BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings held by certain employees of BGC Partners or Newmark and other persons who have provided services to BGC Partners or Newmark, which units may include APSIs, APSUs, AREUs, ARPSUs, HDUs, U.K. LPUs, N Units, PLPUs, PPSIs, PPSUs, PSEs, PSIs, PSUs, REUs, and RPUs, along with future types of limited partnership units in BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings

 

 

Lucera

A wholly owned subsidiary of the Company. Lucera (also known as “LFI Holdings, LLC” or “LFI”) is our software defined network, offering the trading community direct connectivity

 

 

March 2018 Sales Agreement

CEO sales agreement, by and between the Company and CF&Co, dated March 9, 2018, pursuant to which the Company may offer and sell up to an aggregate of $300.0 million of shares of BGC Class A common stock

 

 

MEA

Middle East and Africa region

 

 

MiFID II

Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, a legislative framework instituted by the EU to regulate financial markets and improve protections for investors by increasing transparency and standardizing regulatory disclosures

 

 

Mint Brokers

A wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on August 19, 2010, registered as an FCM with both the CFTC and NFA

 

 

Nasdaq

Nasdaq, Inc., formerly known as NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

 

 

Newmark

Newmark Group, Inc. (NASDAQ symbol: NMRK), a publicly traded and former majority-owned subsidiary of BGC until the Distribution Date, and, where applicable, its consolidated subsidiaries

 

 

Newmark Class A common stock

Newmark Group Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

 

Newmark Class B common stock

Newmark Group Class B common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

 

Newmark Group

Newmark, Newmark Holdings, and Newmark OpCo and their respective subsidiaries, collectively

 

 

Newmark Holdings

Newmark Holdings, L.P.

 

 

Newmark IPO

Initial public offering of 23 million shares of Newmark Class A common stock by Newmark at a price of $14.00 per share in December 2017

 

 

Newmark OpCo

Newmark Partners, L.P., an operating partnership, which is owned jointly by Newmark and Newmark Holdings and holds the business of Newmark

6


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

 

 

Newmark OpCo Preferred Investments

Issuances of EPUs by Newmark OpCo in June 2018 and September 2018

 

 

NYAG

New York Attorney General’s Office

 

 

NEX

NEX Group plc, an entity formed in December 2016, formerly known as ICAP

 

 

NFA

National Futures Association

 

 

Non-GAAP

A financial measure that differs from the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, such as Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted EBITDA

 

 

N Units

Non-distributing partnership units of BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings that may not be allocated any item of profit or loss, and may not be made exchangeable into shares of Class A common stock, including NREUs, NPREUs, NLPUs, NPLPUs, NPSUs, and NPPSUs

 

 

OCC

Options Clearing Corporation

 

 

OCI

Other comprehensive income (loss), including gains and losses on cash flow and net investment hedges, unrealized gains and losses on available for sale securities (in periods prior to January 1, 2018), certain gains and losses relating to pension and other retirement benefit obligations and foreign currency translation adjustments

 

 

OECD

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

 

 

OTC

Over-the-Counter

 

 

OTF

Organized Trading Facility, a regulated execution venue category introduced by MiFID II

 

 

PCD assets

Purchased financial assets with deterioration in credit quality since origination

 

 

PD

Probability of Default

 

 

Period Cost Method

Treatment of taxes associated with the GILTI provision as a current period expense when incurred rather than recording deferred taxes for basis differences

 

 

Poten & Partners

Poten & Partners Group, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, acquired on November 15, 2018

 

 

Preferred Distribution

Allocation of net profits of BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings to holders of Preferred Units, at a rate of either 0.6875% (i.e., 2.75% per calendar year) or such other amount as set forth in the award documentation

 

 

Preferred Units

Preferred partnership units in BGC Holdings or Newmark Holdings, such as PPSUs, which are settled for cash, rather than made exchangeable into shares of Class A common stock, are only entitled to a Preferred Distribution, and are not included in BGC’s or Newmark’s fully diluted share count

 

 

Real Estate L.P.

CF Real Estate Finance Holdings, L.P., a commercial real estate-related financial and investment business controlled and managed by Cantor, of which Newmark owns a minority interest. On September 8, 2017, the Company invested $100.0 million in Real Estate L.P. which was part of the Spin-Off on November 30, 2018

 

 

Real GDP

Real Gross Domestic Product is a macroeconomic measure of the value of economic output adjusted for price changes (i.e. inflation or deflation), which transforms the money-value measure, nominal GDP, into an index for quantity of total output

 

 

Record Date

Close of business on November 23, 2018, in connection with the Spin-Off

 

 

Repurchase Agreements

Securities sold under agreements to repurchase that are recorded at contractual amounts, including interest, and accounted for as collateralized financing transactions

 

 

7


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

Revolving Credit Agreement                    

The Company’s unsecured senior revolving credit facility with Bank of America, N.A., as administrative agent, and a syndicate of lenders, dated as of November 28, 2018, that provides for a maximum revolving loan balance of $350.0 million, bearing interest at either LIBOR or a defined base rate plus additional margin, amended on December 11, 2019 to extend the maturity date to February 26, 2021 and further amended on February 26, 2020 to extend the maturity date to February 26, 2023

 

 

ROU

Right-of-Use

 

 

RSUs

BGC or Newmark unvested restricted stock units, payable in shares of BGC Class A common stock or Newmark Class A common stock, respectively, held by certain employees of BGC Partners or Newmark and other persons who have provided services to BGC Partners or Newmark, or issued in connection with certain acquisitions

 

 

SaaS

Software as a Service

 

 

SEC

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

 

 

Securities Act

Securities Act of 1933, as amended

 

 

SEF

Swap Execution Facility

 

 

Separation

Principal corporate transactions pursuant to the Separation and Distribution Agreement, by which BGC, BGC Holdings and BGC U.S. OpCo and their respective subsidiaries (other than the Newmark Group) transferred to Newmark, Newmark Holdings and Newmark OpCo and their respective subsidiaries the assets and liabilities of the BGC Group relating to BGC’s real estate services business, and related transactions, including the distribution of Newmark Holdings units to holders of units in BGC Holdings and the assumption and repayment of certain BGC indebtedness by Newmark

 

 

Separation and Distribution Agreement

Separation and Distribution Agreement, by and among the BGC Group, the Newmark Group, Cantor and BGC Global OpCo, originally entered into on December 13, 2017, as amended on November 8, 2018 and amended and restated on November 23, 2018

 

 

SMCR

Senior Managers Certification Regime

 

 

Spin-Off

Pro-rata distribution, pursuant to the Separation and Distribution Agreement, by BGC to its stockholders of all the shares of common stock of Newmark owned by BGC Partners immediately prior to the Distribution Date, with shares of Newmark Class A common stock distributed to the holders of shares of BGC Class A common stock (including directors and executive officers of BGC Partners) of record on the Record Date, and shares of Newmark Class B common stock distributed to the holders of shares of BGC Class B common stock (Cantor and CFGM) of record on the Record Date, completed on the Distribution Date

 

 

Tax Act

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted on December 22, 2017

 

 

Term Loan

BGC’s term loan in an aggregate principal amount of $575.0 million under a credit agreement with Bank of America, N.A., as administrative agent, and a syndicate of lenders, dated as of September 8, 2017, as amended, which Term Loan was assumed by Newmark in connection with the Separation and repaid on March 31, 2018

 

 

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge International Services L.P., a subsidiary of the Company, which is 52% owned by the Company and 48% owned by Cantor

 

 

TP ICAP

TP ICAP plc, an entity formed in December 2016, formerly known as Tullett

 

 

Tradition

Compagnie Financière Tradition (which is majority owned by Viel & Cie)

 

 

Tullett

Tullett Prebon plc, a part of TP ICAP group and an interdealer broker, primarily operating as an intermediary in the wholesale financial and energy sectors

 

 

U.K.

United Kingdom

 

 

U.S. GAAP or GAAP

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States of America

 

 

UBT

Unincorporated Business Tax

 

 

8


 

TERM

DEFINITION

 

 

VIE

Variable Interest Entity

 

 

Voice

Voice-only broking transactions executed by brokers over the telephone

 

 

 

9


 

 

SPECIAL NOTE ON FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements. Such statements are based upon current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. For example, words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “possible,” “potential,” “continue,” “strategy,” “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects,” “intends,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The information included herein is given as of the filing date of this Form 10-K with the SEC, and future results or events could differ significantly from these forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Risk Factor Summary

 

The following is a summary of material risks that could affect our businesses, each of which may have a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. This summary may not contain all of our material risks, and it is qualified in its entirety by the more detailed risk factors set forth in Item 1A “Risk Factors.”

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and governmental measures taken in response thereto, have materially adversely affected, and may in the future continue to materially adversely affect, the global economy, the United States economy and the global financial markets, resulting in a global recession that may adversely affect our businesses, financial condition and results of operations. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic, including any successive waves or variants of the virus, or the emergence of another pandemic, and measures taken in response thereto, including “shelter-in-place” orders and other restrictions and delays or complications in the implementation of vaccination programs, could continue to materially adversely affect the conduct of our business will depend upon future developments and conditions, which remain highly uncertain.

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic, and governmental measures taken in response thereto, have severely disrupted the global conduct of business, and have disrupted, and may continue to disrupt, our operations and our clients' operations, which has had, and may continue to have, a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition and results of operations. As a result, we have been required to implement operational changes, including transitioning a large portion of our workforce to remote working, thus exposing us to greater cybersecurity risks. The extent to which the pandemic, and governmental measures taken in response thereto, could materially adversely affect our businesses, financial condition and results of operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including the scope and duration of the pandemic and the actions taken by governmental authorities in response thereto.

 

 

The U.K. exit from the EU could materially adversely impact our customers, counterparties, businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.  

 

 

We may pursue strategic alliances, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures or other growth opportunities (including hiring new brokers and salespeople), which could present unforeseen integration obstacles or costs and could dilute our stockholders. We may also face competition in our acquisition strategy, and such competition may limit our number of strategic alliances, acquisitions, joint ventures and other growth opportunities (including hiring new brokers and salespeople).

 

 

We may be adversely affected by changes in LIBOR reporting practices, the method in which LIBOR is determined, the expected transition away from LIBOR and the use of alternative reference rates, including financial risks arising from any changes in the valuation of financial instruments, and operational risks due to the potential requirement to adapt our information technology systems and operational processes to address the transition away from LIBOR.

 

 

We are subject to certain risks relating to our indebtedness, including constraints on our ability to raise additional capital, declines in our credit ratings and limitations on our financial flexibility to react to changes in the economy or the financial services industry. We may need to incur additional indebtedness to finance our growth strategy, including in connection with the re-positioning of aspects of our business to adapt to changes in market conditions in the financial services industry.

 

 

Our ability to retain our key employees and the ability of certain key employees to devote adequate time and attention to us are critical to the success of our businesses, and failure to do so may materially adversely affect our businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

10


 

 

 

Our management has identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. While the remediation is in process, if we are unable to successfully remediate this material weakness, or if we otherwise fail to implement and maintain an effective internal control environment, our operations, reputation and stock price could suffer, we may need to restate our financial statements and we may be delayed in or prevented from accessing the capital markets.

 

 

The financial services industry in general faces potential regulatory, litigation and/or criminal risks that may result in damages or fines or other penalties as well as costs, and we may face damage to our professional reputation and legal liability if our products and services are not regarded as satisfactory, our employees do not adhere to all applicable legal and professional standards, or for other reasons, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

 

 

Because competition for the services of brokers, salespeople, managers, and other professionals, in the financial services industry is intense, it could affect our ability to attract and retain a sufficient number of highly skilled brokers or other professional services personnel, in turn adversely impacting our revenues, resulting in a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.    

 

 

We are a holding company with dual class common stock. Holders of our Class A common stock are subject to certain risks resulting from our structure, including our dependence upon distributions from the BGC OpCos and the concentration of our voting control among the holders of our Class B common stock, which may materially adversely affect the market price of our Class A common stock.

 

 

Reductions in our quarterly cash dividend and corresponding reductions in distributions by BGC Holdings to its partners may reduce the value of our common stock and the attractiveness of our equity-based compensation and limit the ability of our partners to repay employee loans.  

 

 

We are controlled by Cantor and Mr. Lutnick, who have potential conflicts of interest with us and may exercise their control in a way that favors their interests to our detriment. Cantor’s interests may conflict with our interests, and Cantor may exercise its control in a way that favors its interests to our detriment, including in competition with us for acquisitions or other business opportunities. In addition, agreements between us and Cantor are between related parties, and the terms of these agreements may be less favorable to us than those that we could negotiate with third parties and may subject us to litigation.

 

 

If there is a determination that the Spin-Off (as defined below) was taxable for U.S. federal income tax purposes, then we and our stockholders could incur significant U.S. federal income tax liabilities, and we could incur significant liabilities.

 

 

Purchasers, as well as existing stockholders, may experience significant dilution as a result of offerings of shares of our Class A common stock. Our management will have broad discretion as to the timing and amount of sales of our Class A common stock, as well as the application of the net proceeds of any such sales.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. These filings are available to the public from the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

Our website address is www.bgcpartners.com. Through our website, we make available, free of charge, the following documents as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC: our Annual Reports on Form 10-K; our proxy statements for our annual and special stockholder meetings; our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q; our Current Reports on Form 8-K; Forms 3, 4 and 5 and Schedules 13D with respect to our securities filed on behalf of Cantor, CFGM, our directors and our executive officers; and amendments to those documents. Our website also contains additional information with respect to our industry and businesses. The information contained on, or that may be accessed through, our website is not part of, and is not incorporated into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

11


 

PART I

ITEM  1.

BUSINESS

Throughout this document, BGC Partners, Inc. is referred to as “BGC” and, together with its subsidiaries, as the “Company,” “BGC Partners,” “we,” “us,” or “our.”

Our Businesses

We are a leading global brokerage and financial technology company servicing the global financial markets.

Through brands including BGC®, GFI®, Sunrise Brokers™, Besso™, Ed® Broking, Poten & Partners®, RP Martin™, CORANT™, and CORANT GLOBAL™, among others, our businesses specialize in the brokerage of a broad range of products, including fixed income such as government bonds, corporate bonds, and other debt instruments, as well as related interest rate derivatives and credit derivatives. We also broker products across FX, equity derivatives and cash equities, energy and commodities, shipping, insurance, and futures and options. Our businesses also provide a wide variety of services, including trade execution, brokerage services, clearing, compression and other post-trade services, information, and other back-office services to a broad assortment of financial and non-financial institutions.

Our integrated platform is designed to provide flexibility to customers with regard to price discovery, execution and processing of transactions, and enables them to use Voice, Hybrid, or in many markets, Fully Electronic brokerage services in connection with transactions executed either OTC or through an exchange. Through our Fenics® group of electronic brands, we offer a number of market infrastructure and connectivity services, Fully Electronic marketplaces, and the Fully Electronic brokerage of certain products that also may trade via Voice and Hybrid execution. The full suite of Fenics® offerings include Fully Electronic brokerage, market data and related information services, trade compression and other post-trade services, analytics related to financial instruments and markets, and other financial technology solutions. Fenics® brands operate under the names Fenics®, BGC Trader™, CreditMatch®, Fenics Market Data™, BGC Market Data™, kACE2®, EMBonds®, Capitalab®, Swaptioniser®, CBID® and Lucera®.

BGC, BGC Partners, BGC Trader, GFI, GFI Ginga, CreditMatch, Fenics, Fenics.com, Sunrise Brokers, Corant, Corant Global, Besso, Ed Broking, Poten & Partners, RP Martin, kACE2, EMBonds, Capitalab, Swaptioniser, CBID, Aqua and Lucera are trademarks/service marks, and/or registered trademarks/service marks of BGC Partners, Inc. and/or its affiliates.

Our customers include many of the world’s largest banks, broker-dealers, investment banks, trading firms, hedge funds, governments, corporations, and investment firms. We have dozens of offices globally in major markets including New York and London, as well as in Bahrain, Beijing, Bermuda, Bogotá, Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Nyon, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Toronto.

As of December 31, 2020, we had over 2,822 brokers, salespeople, managers and other front-office personnel across our businesses.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted our business. See  “—COVID-19 Information,” “Item 1A  —  Risk Factors —Risks Related to Our Business Generally— Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic” and “Item 7. — Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations —.COVID -19” for additional information.

Our History

Our business originates from one of the oldest and most established inter-dealer or wholesale brokerage franchises in the financial intermediary industry. Cantor started our wholesale intermediary brokerage operations in 1972. In 1996, Cantor launched its eSpeed system, which revolutionized the way government bonds are traded in the inter-dealer market by providing a fully electronic trading marketplace. eSpeed completed an initial public offering in 1999 and began trading on NASDAQ, yet it remained one of Cantor’s controlled subsidiaries. Following eSpeed’s initial public offering, Cantor continued to operate its inter-dealer voice/hybrid brokerage business separately from eSpeed. In August 2004, Cantor announced the reorganization and separation of its inter-dealer voice/hybrid brokerage business into a subsidiary called “BGC,” in honor of B. Gerald Cantor, the pioneer in screen brokerage services and fixed income market data products. In April 2008, BGC and certain other Cantor assets merged with and into eSpeed, and the combined company began operating under the name “BGC Partners, Inc.” In June 2013, BGC sold certain assets relating to its U.S. Treasury benchmark business and the name “eSpeed” to Nasdaq.

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, our financial brokerage business was widely recognized as one of the leading full-service wholesale financial brokers in the world, with a rich history of developing innovative technological and financial solutions. After September 11, 2001 and the loss of the majority of our U.S.-based employees, our voice financial brokerage business operated primarily in Europe.

Since the formation of BGC in 2004, we have substantially rebuilt our U.S. presence and have continued to expand our global footprint through the acquisition and integration of established brokerage companies and the hiring of experienced brokers. Through these actions, we have been able to expand our presence in key markets and position our business for sustained growth. Since 2015, our acquisitions have included those of GFI Group, Inc., Sunrise Brokers Group, Poten & Partners Group, Inc., Ed Broking Group Limited, Perimeter Markets Inc.,

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Lucera, Micromega Securities Proprietary Limited, Besso Insurance Group Limited, Ginga Petroleum (Singapore) Private Limited, Emerging Markets Bond Exchange Ltd, Kalahari Ltd and Algomi Limited.

COVID-19 Information

Our businesses have been and continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the dislocations it has caused our brokers, salespeople, and clients. Globally, both national and local governments have taken unprecedented actions to abate the spread of COVID-19, which include lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, travel bans and mandated business closures.

Our revenues were adversely impacted for the year ended December 31, 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on the macroeconomic environment, including interest rates, FX, and oil prices. This resulted in lower year-on-year secondary trading volumes across rates and certain FX products, which impacted our rates and FX businesses.

Responsive actions taken by Central Banks across the globe lowered interest rates and included restarting quantitative easing programs at levels not seen since the financial crisis. While both low interest rates and high levels of quantitative easing adversely affect certain of our businesses, including Rates and FX, we believe record levels of government and corporate debt issued in conjunction with pandemic will provide a tailwind for our businesses going forward. In certain areas of our businesses, such as our fully-electronic Fenics business, we believe the pandemic’s promotion of virtual and remote work arrangements, will support existing trends of electronification across our business. Other businesses, such as our data, software and post-trade businesses, continue to be recurring. The insurance brokerage industry also tends to be more predictable at certain times of year and we expect the pandemic to generate greater demand for insurance brokerage and we expect growth in this business over time.

From the onset of the pandemic, we have been able to provide our front, middle and back office staff with a remote work environment. While the majority of our front office brokers and salesforce have returned to designated office locations, a significant number of our middle and back office employees continue to work remotely.

The continued impact of the pandemic on our businesses is largely dependent on global efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, including governmental efforts to distribute vaccines and overall vaccination rates across the United States, Europe, Asia and other geographies.

Additional information about the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses as a whole or specific businesses or line items, and the risks and other factors impacting our results, may be found in Item 1A –“Risk Factors”, Item 7 – Management, Discussion and Analysis  - Forward-Looking Cautionary Statements,” “Impact of COVID-19 on Employees” and “Impact of COVID-19 on the Company’s Results” and in other portions of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Overview of Our Products and Services

Financial Brokerage (including Fenics)

We are focused on serving four principal financial brokerage markets:

 

traditional, liquid brokerage markets, such as government bonds, over the counter (OTC) European and U.S. interest rate, foreign exchange, and energy derivatives, as well as listed futures and options;

 

less liquid markets, such as emerging market bonds and single name credit derivatives;

 

targeted local markets throughout the world; and

 

wholesale insurance brokerage.

Fenics is our foundation for our fully electronic and associated hybrid transactions across all asset classes. For the purposes of this document and subsequent SEC filings, all of our fully electronic businesses may be collectively referred to as “Fenics.” These offerings include fully electronic brokerage products and services, as well as offerings in market data, software solutions, and post-trade services across the Company.

We provide electronic marketplaces in multiple financial markets through numerous products and services, including Fenics, BGC Trader, and several multi-asset hybrid offerings for voice and electronic execution, including BGC’s Volume Match and GFI’s CreditMatch. These electronic marketplaces include government bond markets, interest rate derivatives, spot foreign exchange, foreign exchange derivatives, corporate bonds, and credit derivatives. We believe that we offer a comprehensive application providing volume, access, connectivity, speed of execution and ease of use. Our trading platform establishes a direct link between our brokers and customers and occupies valuable real estate on traders’ desktops, which is difficult to replicate. We believe that we can leverage our platform to offer fully electronic trading as additional products transition from voice and hybrid trading to fully electronic execution.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our fully electronic Fenics business has been a key growth driver and competitive advantage as many of our brokers and clients have adapted to working remotely. We have leveraged our hybrid platform to provide real-time product and price discovery information through applications such as BGC Trader. We also provide straight-through processing to our customers for an increasing number of products. Our end-to-end solution includes real-time and auction-based transaction processing, credit and risk management tools and back-end processing and billing systems. Customers can access our trading application through our privately managed global high speed data network, over the Internet, or through third-party communication networks.

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The following table identifies some of the key products that we broker:

 

Rates

Interest rate derivatives

 

 

 

Benchmark U.S. Treasuries

 

 

 

Off-the-run U.S. Treasuries

 

 

 

Other global government bonds

 

 

 

Agencies

 

 

 

Futures

 

 

 

Inflation derivatives

 

 

 

Repurchase agreements

 

 

 

Non-deliverable swaps

 

 

 

Interest rate swaps and options

 

 

Credit

Credit derivatives

 

 

 

Asset-backed securities

 

 

 

Convertibles

 

 

 

Corporate bonds

 

 

 

High yield bonds

 

 

 

Emerging market bonds

 

 

Foreign Exchange

Foreign exchange forwards and options

 

 

 

G-10

 

 

 

Emerging markets

 

 

 

Cross currencies

 

 

 

Exotic options

 

 

 

Spot FX

 

 

 

Emerging market FX options

 

 

 

Non-deliverable forwards

 

 

Energy and Commodities (OTC and listed derivatives)

Environmental products and emissions

 

Electricity

 

 

 

Natural Gas

 

 

 

Coal

 

 

 

Base and precious metals

 

 

 

Refined and crude oil

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Soft commodities

 

 

 

Shipping brokerage

 

 

Equity Derivatives and Cash Equities

Equity derivatives

 

 

 

Cash equities

 

 

 

Index futures

 

 

 

Other derivatives and futures

 

 

Insurance

Accident and Health

 

Aerospace

 

Aviation

 

Cargo

 

Cyber

 

Energy

 

Engineering

 

Financial and Political Risk

 

Marine

 

Parametric insurance products

 

Professional and Executive Risk

 

Property and Casualty

 

Specialty

 

Reinsurance

 

Fine Art, Jewelry and Specie

 

Certain categories of trades settle for clearing purposes with CF&Co, one of our affiliates. CF&Co is a member of FINRA and the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (“FICC”), a subsidiary of the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (“DTCC”). In addition, certain affiliated entities are subject to regulation by the CFTC, including CF&Co and BGCF. In certain products, we, CF&Co, BGC Financial and other affiliates act in a matched principal or principal capacity in markets by posting and/or acting upon quotes for our account. Such activity is intended, among other things, to assist us, CF&Co and other affiliates in managing proprietary positions (including, but not limited to, those established as a result of combination of trades and errors), facilitating transactions, framing markets, adding liquidity, increasing commissions and attracting order flow.

 

Market Data

Fenics Market Data™ is a supplier of real-time, tradable, indicative, end-of-day and historical market data. Our market data product suite includes fixed income, interest rate derivatives, credit derivatives, foreign exchange, foreign exchange options, money markets, energy, metals, and equity derivatives and structured market data products and services. The data are sourced from the voice, hybrid and electronic broking operations, as well as the market data operations, including BGC, GFI and RP Martin, among others. The data are made available to financial professionals, research analysts and other market participants via direct data feeds and BGC-hosted FTP environments, as well as via information vendors such as Bloomberg, Refinitiv, ICE Data Services, QUICK Corp., and other select specialist vendors. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we began delivering our innovative new data product created for compliance and surveillance departments.

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Software Solutions and Post-Trade Services

Through our Software Solutions business, we provide customized screen-based market solutions to both related and unrelated parties. Our clients are able to develop a marketplace, trade with their customers and access our network and our intellectual property. We can add advanced functionality to enable our customers to distribute branded products to their customers through online offerings and auctions, including private and reverse auctions, via our trading platform and global network.

We offer a derivative price discovery, pricing analysis, risk management and trading software used by over 200 institutions across 38 countries. Our clients include mid-tier banks, financial institutions and corporate clients. In 2020, we acquired Algomi (a buy-side focused platform that allows bond market participants to improve their workflow and liquidity by data aggregation, pre-trade information analysis, and execution facilitation) which is being folded into LumeMarkets. In 2019 we launched our Gateway module that links our client base with their counterparties, trading venues and regulators, enabling clients to automate order flow, straight through processing, data distribution and regulatory reporting. During the first half of 2018, we fully integrated Fenics software and Kalahari software to form kACE2, our analytics brand.

Our Software Solutions business provides the software and technology infrastructure for the transactional and technology related elements of the Freedom International Brokerage Company marketplace as well as certain other services in exchange for specified percentages of transaction revenue from the marketplace.

As part of our Software Solutions business, our Lucera® brand delivers high-performance technology solutions designed to be secure and scalable and to power demanding financial applications across several offerings: LumeFX® (distributed FX platform with managed infrastructure and software stack), LumeMarkets™ (multi-asset class aggregation platform), Connect™ (global SDN for rapid provisioning of connectivity to counter-parties), and Compute™ (on-demand, co-located compute services in key financial data centers).

Our Post-Trade Services include post-trade risk mitigation services provided using our Capitalab® brand. Capitalab, a division of BGC Brokers L.P. (“BGC Brokers”), provides compression, matching and optimization services that are designed to bring greater capital and operational efficiency to the global derivatives market. Capitalab assists clients in managing the growing cost of holding derivatives, while helping them to meet their regulatory mandates. Through the Swaptioniser® service for portfolio compression of Interest Rate Swaptions, Interest Rate Swaps, Caps and Floors, and through the Capitalab FX, with CLS service offering portfolio compression of FX Forwards, FX Swaps and FX Options, as well as Initial Margin Optimization services complete with fully automated trade processing and connection with LCH SwapAgent, Capitalab looks to simplify the complexities of managing large quantities of derivatives to promote sustainable growth and lower systemic risk and to improve resiliency in the industry.

Aqua Business

Cantor owns 51% and we own 49% of Aqua, a business that provides access to new block trading liquidity in the equities markets. The SEC has granted approval for Aqua to operate an Alternative Trading System in compliance with Regulation ATS.

Insurance Brokerage (Corant Global)

In February 2017, we completed the acquisition of Besso and in January 2019, we completed the acquisition of Ed Broking, each an independent Lloyd’s of London insurance broker. In addition, in 2019 we established Piiq Risk Partners Inc. and Piiq Risk Partners Limited as brokers in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, to focus exclusively on the insurance requirements of the aerospace and aviation industry. We established Ed Broking (Bermuda) Limited in 2019 to develop additional insurance opportunities in the Bermuda market, and in 2020, we expanded the Piiq platform further by establishing Piiq Risk Partners SAS in France. In January 2021 we launched Corant Global Limited (“Corant”). Subject to regulatory consent, Corant will become the holding company for all the insurance interests of BGC. Our insurance brokerage business has a strong reputation across Accident and Health, Aerospace, Aviation, Cargo, Cyber, Energy, Engineering, Financial and Political Risk, Marine, Parametric Insurance Products, Professional and Executive Risk, Property and Casualty, Specialty and Reinsurance and Fine Art, Jewelry and Specie.

Shipping Brokerage

In November 2018, we acquired Poten & Partners, a leading ship brokerage, consulting and business intelligence firm specializing in LNG, tanker and LPG markets. Founded over 80 years ago and with 170 employees worldwide, Poten & Partners provides its clients with valuable insight into the international oil, gas and shipping markets.

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Energy Brokerage

In March 2019, we acquired Ginga Petroleum, which complements our existing energy brokerage businesses within BGC, GFI, and Poten. Ginga Petroleum provides a comprehensive range of broking services for physical and derivative energy products including naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas, fuel oil, biofuels, middle distillates, petrochemicals and gasoline.

Industry Recognition

Our business has consistently won global industry awards and accolades in recognition of its performance and achievements. Recent examples include:

 

Fenics GO was named OTC Trading Platform of the Year by Risk.net and Risk magazine at the Risk Awards 2021

 

Capitalab was named OTC Infrastructure Service of the Year by Risk.net and Risk magazine at the Risk Awards 2021

 

Fenics GO was named Trading and Execution Solution of the Year at the FOW International Awards 2020

 

BGC was named Interdealer Broker of the Year at the Financial News Trading and Technology Awards in 2020

 

BGC was named Equity Derivatives Interdealer Broker of the Year at the GlobalCapital Global Derivatives Awards in 2020

 

BGC won Best Broker for Currency Options at the FX Markets Best Bank Awards in 2020

 

In 2020, GFI was ranked #1 Overall for Precious Metals; #1 in Gold; #1 in Silver; and #1 in France for European Power in the Energy Risk Commodity Rankings 2020

 

In 2020, GFI was named #1 Overall Top Bulk Commodities Inter-Dealer Broker; #1 Overall Iron Ore Inter-Dealer Broker; #1 62% Iron Ore Futures Inter-Dealer Broker; and #1 Coking Coal Options Inter-Dealer Broker by the Singapore Exchange for their SGX Commodities Awards 2019.

Customers and Clients

We primarily serve the wholesale financial, energy and insurance markets, with clients including many of the world’s largest banks, brokerage houses, investment firms, hedge funds, and investment banks. Customers using our branded products and services also include professional trading firms, futures commission merchants, and other professional market participants and financial institutions. Our market data products and services are available through many platforms and are available to a wide variety of capital market participants, including banks, investment banks, brokerage firms, asset managers, hedge funds, investment analysts and financial advisors. We also license our intellectual property portfolio and offerings in Software Solutions to various financial markets participants. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our top ten customers, collectively, accounted for approximately 27.8% of our total revenue on a consolidated basis, and our largest customer accounted for approximately 4.4% of our total revenue on a consolidated basis.

Sales and Marketing

Our brokers and salespeople are the primary marketing and sales resources to our customers. Thus, our sales and marketing program is aimed at enhancing the ability of our brokers to cross-sell effectively in addition to informing our customers about our product and service offerings. We also employ product teams and business development professionals. We leverage our customer relationships through a variety of direct marketing and sales initiatives and build and enhance our brand image through marketing and communications campaigns targeted at a diverse audience, including traders, potential partners and the investor and media communities. We may also market to our existing and prospective customers through a variety of co-marketing/co-branding initiatives with our partners.

Our brokerage product team is composed of product managers who are each responsible for a specific part of our brokerage business. The product managers seek to ensure that our brokers, across all regions, have access to technical expertise, support and multiple execution methods in order to grow and market their business. This approach of combining marketing with our product and service strategy has enabled us to turn innovative ideas into both deliverable fully electronic and hybrid solutions, such as BGC Trader, our multi-asset hybrid offering to our customers for voice and electronic execution.

Our team of business development professionals is responsible for growing our global footprint through raising awareness of our products and services. The business development team markets our products and services to new and existing customers. As part of this process, they analyze existing levels of business with these entities in order to identify potential areas of growth and also to cross-sell our multiple offerings.

Our market data, software solutions, and post-trade products and services are promoted to our existing and prospective customers through a combination of sales, marketing and co-marketing campaigns.

These efforts are supported by a central team of professionals across marketing, design, event planning, public relations, and corporate communications.

Technology

Pre-Trade Technology. Our financial brokers use a suite of pricing and analytical tools that have been developed both in-house and in cooperation with specialist software suppliers. The pre-trade software suite combines proprietary market data, pricing and calculation

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libraries, together with those outsourced from external providers. The tools in turn publish to a normalized, global market data distribution platform, allowing prices and rates to be distributed to our proprietary network, data vendor pages, secure websites and trading applications as indicative pricing.

Inter-Dealer and Wholesale Trading Technology. We utilize a sophisticated proprietary electronic trading platform to provide execution and market data services to our customers. The services are available through our proprietary API, FIX and a multi-asset proprietary trading platform, operating under brands including BGC Trader™, CreditMatch®, Fenics®, GFI ForexMatch®, BGCForex™, BGCCredit™, BGCRates™, FenicsFX™, FenicsUST™, FenicsDirect™, Fenics GO™, and MidFX. This platform presently supports a wide and constantly expanding range of products and services, which includes FX options, corporate bonds, credit derivatives, OTC interest rate derivatives in multiple currencies, US REPO, TIPS, MBS, government bonds, spot FX, NDFs, and other products. Every product on the platform is supported in either view-only, hybrid/managed or fully electronic mode, and can be transitioned from one mode to the next in response to market demands. The flexible BGC technology stack is designed to support feature-rich workflows required by the hybrid mode as well as delivering high throughput and low transaction latency required by the fully-electronic mode. Trades executed by our customers in any mode are, when applicable, eligible for immediate electronic confirmation through direct straight-through processing (“STP”) links as well as STP hubs. The BGC trading platform services are operated out of several globally distributed data centers and delivered to customers over BGC’s global private network, third-party connectivity providers as well as the Internet. BGC’s proprietary graphical user interfaces and the API/FIX connectivity are deployed at hundreds of major banks and institutions and service thousands of users.

Post-Trade Straight Through Processing Technology. Our platform automates previously paper and telephone-based transaction processing, confirmation and other functions, substantially improving and reducing the cost of many of our customers’ back offices and enabling STP. In addition to our own system, confirmation and trade processing is also available through third-party hubs, including MarkitWIRE, ICElink, Reuters RTNS, and STP in FIX for various banks.

We have electronic connections to most mainstream clearinghouses, including DTCC, CLS Group, Euroclear, Clearstream, Monte Titoli, LCH.Clearnet, Eurex Clearing, CME Clearing and the Options Clearing Corporation (“OCC”). As more products become centrally cleared, and as our customers request that we use a particular venue, we expect to expand the number of clearinghouses to which we connect in the future.

 

Systems Architecture. Our systems consist of layered components, which provide matching, credit management, market data distribution, position reporting, customer display and customer integration. The private network currently operates from six concurrent core data centers (three of which are in the U.K., one each in Trumbull, Connecticut, Weehawken, New Jersey and Secaucus, New Jersey) and many hub cities throughout the world acting as distribution points for all private network customers. The redundant structure of our system provides multiple backup paths and re-routing of data transmission in the event of failure.

In addition to our own network system, we also receive and distribute secure trading information from customers using the services of multiple, major Internet service providers throughout the world. These connections enable us to offer our products and services via the Internet to our global customers.

Software Development

We devote substantial efforts to the development and improvement of our hybrid and electronic marketplaces and licensed software products and services. We work with our customers to identify their specific requirements and make modifications to our software, network distribution systems and technologies that are responsive to those needs. Our efforts focus on internal development, strategic partnering, acquisitions and licensing.

Our Intellectual Property

We regard our technology and intellectual property rights, including our brands, as a critical part of our business. We hold various trademarks, trade dress and trade names and rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark, service mark and trade secret laws, as well as contractual restrictions, to establish and protect our intellectual property rights. We own numerous domain names and have registered numerous trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and foreign countries. Our trademark registrations must be renewed periodically, and, in most jurisdictions, every 10 years.

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We have adopted a comprehensive intellectual property program to protect our proprietary technology and innovations. We currently have licenses covering various patents from related parties. We also have agreements to license technology that may be covered by several pending and/or issued U.S. patent applications relating to various aspects of our electronic trading systems, including both functional and design aspects. We have filed a number of patent applications to further protect our proprietary technology and innovations and have received patents for some of those applications. We will continue to file additional patent applications on new inventions, as appropriate, demonstrating our commitment to technology and innovation.

Our patent portfolio continues to grow and we continue to look for opportunities to license and/or otherwise monetize the patents in our portfolio.

Credit Risk

For a description of our exposure to credit risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Credit Risk.”

Principal Transaction Risk

For a description of our exposure to principal transaction risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Principal Transaction Risk.”

Market Risk

For a description of our exposure to market risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Market Risk.”

Operational Risk

For a description of our exposure to operational risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Operational Risk.”

Foreign Currency Risk

For a description of our exposure to foreign currency risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Foreign Currency Risk.”

Interest Rate Risk

For a description of our exposure to interest rate risk, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Interest Rate Risk.”

Disaster Recovery

For a description of our disaster recovery processes, see “Item 7A — Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — Disaster Recovery.”

 

Competition

We encounter competition in all aspects of our businesses. We compete primarily with other inter-dealer or wholesale financial brokers, and wholesale insurance brokers for brokers, salespeople, and suitable acquisition candidates. Our existing and potential competitors are numerous and include other wholesale financial brokerage and inter-dealer brokerage firms, wholesale insurance brokers, multi-dealer trading companies, financial technology companies, market data and information vendors, securities and futures exchanges, electronic communications networks, crossing systems, software companies, financial trading consortia, shipping brokers, business-to-business marketplace infrastructure companies, as well as niche market energy and other Internet-based commodity trading systems.

Inter-Dealer or Wholesale Financial Brokers and Wholesale Insurance Brokers

We primarily compete with two publicly traded, diversified inter-dealer and/or wholesale financial brokers. These are TP ICAP and Compagnie Financière Tradition (which is majority owned by Viel & Cie) (“Tradition”). Other competitors include a number of smaller, private firms that tend to specialize in specific product areas or geographies, such as Marex Spectron Group Limited in energy and commodities, XP Inc. in fixed income and foreign exchange, and Gottex Brokers Holding SA, which is an affiliate of Tradition, in OTC interest rate derivatives.

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We also compete with global wholesale insurance and reinsurance brokers, including Aon, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., as well as numerous regional and specialist firms.

Demand for wholesale brokerage services is directly affected by the overall level of economic activity, international and domestic economic and political conditions, broad trends in business and finance, including employment levels, the level and volatility of interest rates, changes in and uncertainty regarding tax laws and substantial fluctuations in the volume and price levels of securities transactions. Other significant factors affecting competition in the brokerage industry are the quality and ability of professional personnel, the depth and pricing efficiency of the markets in which the brokers transact, the strength of the technology used to service and execute on those markets and the relative prices of products and services offered by the brokers and by competing markets and trading processes.

Business development is another highly competitive component of wholesale financial and insurance brokerage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional business development efforts were adversely impacted for both us and our competitors. Competition for new and existing client business remains high, as does developing new ways to execute successful business development efforts in the current environment.

Market Data and Financial Software Vendors

The majority of our large inter-dealer and wholesale financial broker competitors also sell proprietary market data and information, which competes with our market data offerings. In addition to direct sales, we resell market data through large market data and information providers. These companies have established significant presences on the vast majority of trading desks in our industry. Some of these market data and information providers, such as Bloomberg L.P. and Refinitiv, include in their product mix electronic trading and execution of both OTC and listed products in addition to their traditional market data offerings. In January 2021, Refinitiv was acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group, which also sells proprietary market data and information.

Exchanges and Other Trading Platforms

Although our businesses will often use exchanges to execute transactions brokered in both listed and OTC markets, we believe that exchanges have sought and will seek to migrate products traditionally traded in OTC markets by inter-dealer and/or wholesale financial brokers to exchanges. However, we believe that when a product goes from OTC to exchange-traded, the underlying or related OTC market often continues to experience growth in line with the growth of the exchange-traded contract. In addition, ICE operates both regulated exchanges and OTC execution services, and in the latter it competes directly with inter-dealer and/or wholesale financial brokers in energy, commodities, and credit products. ICE entered these OTC markets primarily by acquiring independent OTC brokers. We also compete with CME via its acquisition of NEX. We believe that it is likely ICE, CME, or other exchange operators may seek to compete with us in the future by acquiring other such brokers, by creating listed products designed to mimic OTC products, or through other means.

In addition to exchanges, other electronic trading platforms which primarily operate in the dealer-to-client markets, including those run by MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (“MarketAxess”) and Tradeweb Markets Inc. (“Tradeweb”), now compete with us in the inter-dealer markets. At the same time, we have begun to offer an increasing number of our products and services to the customers of firms like MarketAxess and Tradeweb. Further, ICE also operates a SEF, as does Tradeweb, and we expect that other exchanges and trading platforms may also seek to do so.

Banks and Broker-Dealers

Banks and broker-dealers have in the past created and/or funded consortia to compete with exchanges and inter-dealer brokers. For example, CME’s wholesale businesses for fully electronic trading of U.S. Treasuries and spot foreign exchange both began as dealer-owned consortia before being acquired by CME’s NEX platform. An example of a current and similar consortium is Tradeweb. Several large banks continue to hold public equity stakes in Tradeweb. Refinitiv, which was acquired by the London Stock Exchange Group in January 2021, is Tradeweb’s single largest shareholder. Although Tradeweb operates primarily as a dealer to customer platform, some of its offerings include a voice and electronic inter-dealer platform and a SEF. Tradeweb’s management has said that it would like to further expand into other inter-dealer markets, and in February 2021, it announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nasdaq’s U.S. fixed income electronic trading platform, formerly known as eSpeed. In 2013, BGC sold the eSpeed platform to Nasdaq, and subsequently launched a competing platform, Fenics UST.

In addition, certain investment management firms that traditionally deal with banks and broker-dealers have expressed a desire to have direct access to certain parts of the wholesale financial markets via firms such as ours. We believe that over time, interdealer-brokers will therefore gain a small percentage of the sales and trading market currently dominated by banks and broker-dealers. Since their collective revenues are many times those of the global inter-dealer market, we believe that gaining even a small share of banks and broker-dealers’ revenues could lead to a meaningful increase in our revenues. Additionally, wholesale financial brokers have aimed to grow their agency brokerage businesses, which typically serve a broader client set, including banks, broker-dealers, and institutional clients. Recent actions taken by wholesale financial brokers to expand their agency businesses include our acquisition of Algomi in March 2020 and TP ICAP’s announced acquisition of Liquidnet in October 2020.

Overall, we believe that we may also face future competition from market data and technology companies and some securities brokerage firms, some of which are currently our customers, as well as from any future strategic alliances, joint ventures or other partnerships created by one or more of our potential or existing competitors.

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Seasonality

Traditionally, the financial markets around the world generally experience lower volume during the late summer and at the end of the year due to a slowdown in the business environment around holiday seasons. Therefore, our revenues tend to be strongest in the first quarter and lowest in the fourth quarter. For the year 2020, we earned approximately 29.3% of our revenues in the first quarter, while in 2019 we earned 25.9% of such revenues in the first quarter.

 

Partnership Overview

Many of our key brokers, salespeople and other front office professionals have a substantial amount of their own capital invested in our business, aligning their interests with our stockholders. Limited partnership interests in BGC Holdings and Newmark Holdings (received in connection with the Spin-Off) consist of: (i) “founding/working partner units” held by limited partners who are employees; (ii) “limited partnership units,” which consist of a variety of units that are generally held by employees such as REUs, RPUs, PSUs, PSIs, PSEs, U.K. LPUs, APSUs, APSIs, APSEs, AREUs, ARPUs and NPSUs; (iii) “Cantor units” which are the exchangeable limited partnership interests held by Cantor entities; and (iv) Preferred Units, which are working partner units that may be awarded to holders of, or contemporaneous with, the grant of certain limited partnership units. For further details, see “Our Organizational Structure.” NPSUs are partnership units that are not entitled to participate in partnership distributions, not allocated any items of profit or loss and may not be exchangeable into shares of our common stock. On terms and conditions determined by the General Partner of the Partnership in its sole discretion, NPSUs are expected to be replaced by a grant of limited partnership units, which may be set forth in a written schedule and subject to additional terms and conditions, provided that, in all circumstances such grant of limited partnership units shall be contingent upon our, including our affiliates, earning, in aggregate, at least $5 million in gross revenues in the calendar quarter in which the applicable award of limited partnership units is to be granted. In addition, we have N Units which are non-distributing partnership units that may not be allocated any item of profit or loss and may not be made exchangeable into shares of our Class A common stock. Subject to the approval of the Compensation Committee or its designee, the N Units are expected to be converted into the underlying unit type (i.e., an NREU will be converted into an REU) and then participate in Partnership distributions, subject to terms and conditions determined by the General Partner of the Partnership in its sole discretion, including that the recipient continue to provide substantial services to us and comply with his or her partnership obligations.

We believe that our emphasis on equity-based compensation promotes recruitment, motivation of our brokers and employees and alignment of interest with shareholders. Virtually all of our executives and front-office employees have equity or partnership stakes in the Company and its subsidiaries and generally receive grants of deferred equity or LPUs as part of their compensation. A significant percentage of BGC’s fully diluted shares are owned by its executives, partners and employees. While BGC Holdings limited partnership interests generally entitle our partners to participate in distributions of income from the operations of our business, upon leaving BGC Holdings (or upon any other redemption or purchase of such limited partnership interests as described below), any such partners are only entitled to receive over time, and provided he or she does not violate certain partner obligations, an amount for his or her BGC Holdings limited partnership interests that reflects such partner’s capital account or compensatory grant awards, excluding any goodwill or going concern value of our business unless Cantor, in the case of the founding partners, and we, as the general partner of BGC Holdings, otherwise determine. We may effect redemptions of BGC Holdings LPUs and FPUs, and concurrently grant shares of our Class A common stock, or may grant our partners the right to exchange their BGC Holdings limited partnership interests for shares of our Class A common stock (if, in the case of founding partners, Cantor so determines and, in the case of working partners and limited partnership unit holders, the BGC Holdings general partner, with Cantor’s consent, determines otherwise) and thereby realize any higher value associated with our Class A common stock. Similar provisions with respect to Newmark Holdings limited partnership interests are contained in the Newmark Holdings limited partnership agreement. We believe that, having invested in us, partners feel a sense of responsibility for the health and performance of our business and have a strong incentive to maximize our revenues and profitability.

Relationship Between BGC Partners and Cantor

See “Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Relationship with Cantor and its Affiliates.”

 

Debt

For information about our credit agreements and senior notes, see “Item 7— Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

Newmark Spin-Off

On November 30, 2018, we completed the Spin-Off of the shares of Newmark Class A and Class B common stock held by us to our stockholders as of the close of business on the Record Date through a special pro-rata stock dividend pursuant to which shares of Newmark Class A common stock held by BGC were distributed to holders of BGC Class A common stock and shares of Newmark Class B common stock held by BGC were distributed to holders of BGC Class B common stock (which holders of BGC Class B common stock were Cantor and CFGM). Following the Spin-Off, BGC no longer holds any interest in Newmark.

 

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For more information about the Newmark Spin-Off, see Note 1—“Organization and Basis of Presentation” to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Overview and Business Environment.”

Regulation

U.S. Regulation

The financial services industry in the United States is subject to extensive regulation under both federal and state laws. As registered broker-dealers, introducing broke