Zero-Sum Game

Story of the CME & CBOT Merger

Just a quick note to say I recently picked up the book Zero-Sum Game by Erika S. Olson.  Olson is, at the time the story begins, a newly hired managing director of marketing for the Chicago Board of Trade and she chronicled her experiences during the merger of the CBOT and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2007.  In addition to detailing her experiences, she provides background information on many of the major players in the negotions and on events that transpired in the nine months following the merger announcement.

For me some of the more interesting parts of the story include:

  • Jeff Sprecher’s moves to get the ICE involved in the merger/acquisition discussion [note: some of the marketing tactics remind me of the tactics Marc Benioff used against Siebel, as described in Behind the Cloud]
  • The story of the CBOT Class B Shareholders and their CBOE ERPs (would have actually liked to read more about this)
  • Story of Caledonia and ownership of memberships at a number of exchanges; their involvement near the proxy vote
  • Discussion of John Lothian's commentary throughout merger negotiations

Of course, with any narrative that involves someone from outside the futures industry, there are the funny anecdotes of being introduced to some of Chicago’s more colorful characters – the traders.  (For an up close look at some of these personalities, Floored is a great movie…)

Overall I thought it was a good, quick read that shed a bit of light into what was going on during the merger.  I thought Olson had a great voice and told the story well, but I was left wanting more detail and background into certain situations.

For more on the book, see the Futures Magazine review.


Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides

full legal services to the managed futures industry.  Bart Mallon can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.