Omega Levels the Playing Field for Investors in Canada

ATS becomes first protected marketplace to offer full transparency of fixed income instruments

Dec 15, 2010, 09:00 ET from Omega ATS

TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Omega ATS, the low cost, low latency alternative trading system for Canadian exchange-listed equities, today announced that fixed income instruments are now available to be traded publicly on the venue. Omega ATS is the first marketplace to provide open access to trade the most liquid fixed income securities in Canada, beginning with select Government of Canada issues with an eye to expanding to provincial and corporate offerings in the near term. This is a significant step for the Canadian investment community as the previously dark world of fixed income now has a visible auction market. Crucially, this marks an important move towards greater transparency and accountability in Canadian bond trading.

"It is well known that access to directly trade in the bond market in Canada is concentrated in the hands of a privileged few," comments Mike Bignell, President at Omega ATS. "Spreads are kept artificially wide as individual investors are not party to transparency. Our objective is to provide visibility on prices to equip investors with the knowledge to make better investment decisions. Up until now, the other venues in Canada seemed as though they were offering the same candy in different wrappers. Omega is looking to emerge from a period of stalled progress and innovate with several unique offerings in the space. As the first to offer full transparency of OTC traded fixed income instruments, we will forever change the landscape for the common investor to a setting that promotes equal and open access."

Fixed income products have become increasingly important to Canadian investors, as bonds have gained a more prominent role after recent turmoil in worldwide equity markets. Yet despite the watchful eye of Canadian regulators and the trend towards more transparency in financial markets, fixed income trades are not generally subject to the same transparency and best execution regulations to which other instruments must comply. This has made it difficult for investors who are buying or selling money market instruments or bonds to ascertain whether they are getting the best available price and paying a fair commission to brokers.

"This is a decidedly positive move as it levels the playing field for all participants, especially the retail investors competing with broker/dealers trading in much higher dollar amounts and holding the lion's share of the liquidity," said Renee Colyer, CEO, Forefactor. "Because transparent fixed income aggregated quotes are currently only available to institutional clients on the CanDeal and CBID platforms, the ability to trade these instruments on an open venue will create much greater transparency for all within the Canadian marketplace as well as globally. It shows how Canada is making greater strides towards competing in the global arena by providing a fair and transparent debt market with better access to liquidity."

This latest announcement follows the introduction of a next-generation matching engine by Omega ATS earlier this year. Called 'ThymeX', the platform offers order execution in micro-seconds, making Omega ATS one of the lowest latency trading venues in Canada.

About Omega ATS

Omega ATS is an alternative trading system for Canadian exchange-listed equities. It provides a fast, price/time priority trading platform where dealers and their clients can trade at the CBBO (Canadian Best Bid and Offer) at extremely competitive rates.  It has more than 70 subscriber firms including Canada's five largest dealers. The system is designed to maximize internal order processing speed – minimizing the time between when an order is received and an acknowledgement is sent. The company rewards liquidity providers with time priority over other marketplaces and is committed to keeping its marketplace fees as low as possible. For more information, please visit