Emmet A. Larkin Co. quits the clearing arena

Move further shrinks a dwindling business

Jul 2, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Another clearing firm bites the dust.

Emmet A. Larkin Co. Inc. last month quietly shut down its back-office and clearing operations.

Larkin, which is based in San Francisco, had a “last trade date” of June 16, according to a notice published by New York-based National Securities Clearing Corp.

Known primarily as a bond shop, Larkin will no longer participate in a number of trading activities and services that included commission settlements, according to the statement.

“That's basically saying they're no longer clearing,” said Adam Honore, a Denver-based senior analyst with the Aite Group LLC of Boston.

Market sources, including a former broker-dealer client of Larkin, said that Larkin's roughly 34 broker-dealer clients have essentially been handed off to Sterne Agee Clearing Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla.

Executives at both Larkin and Stern Agee, including Larkin chief executive and chairman Gordon Hing, did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

NSCC, a unit of New York's Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., provides clearing, settlement and a guarantee of completion for certain transactions for virtually all broker-to-broker trades involving equities, and corporate and municipal debt.

It's unclear why the firm shuttered its clearing business, but the industry has shrunk dramatically in recent years, due to consolidation.

The number of clearing firms is estimated to stand at about 17 today, down from about 130 in the early 1990s.

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