Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"New York Financial Firm Cantor Fitzgerald Rebuilds from Sept. 11, 2001, Loss," by Michael L. Diamond,

September 11, 2003, Asbury Park Press / Knight Ridder/Tribune, "New York Financial Firm Cantor Fitzgerald Rebuilds from Sept. 11, 2001, Loss," by Michael L. Diamond,


Sept. 11--NEW YORK -- They are sitting together again, side by side, in front of banks of computers. They are celebrating birthdays with ice cream cake. Their voices get louder as the pressure intensifies in deals worth millions of dollars.

At least outwardly, Cantor Fitzgerald looks as if it is back to normal. There are no 9/11 memorials on display. There is no discernible sadness, but that's a little misleading.

"That experience will always be a part of us, and I think what drives us," company spokesman Tom Ryan said. "What helps us put our grief into focus is knowing the harder we work, the more successful we can be, the more it will benefit the families."

Two years after losing three-quarters of its work force in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Cantor Fitzgerald and its subsidiary eSpeed Inc. are continuing to rebuild, hiring workers and expanding their product lines.

Its bottom line has taken on an unusual importance; Cantor Fitzgerald's partners are donating 25 percent of their profits through 2006 to the family members of employees who were killed. And the company is providing then with health insurance for 10 years.

In all, the company, which was near the top of Tower One of the World Trade Center, lost 658 employees, including 68 who lived in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Today, its temporary New York headquarters houses 434 workers and encompasses the third through seventh floors of an office building on 57th Street.

The differences are both glaring and trivial. The bulk of employees are new. And whereas the company once housed an extensive collection of Rodin artwork, there is now only one wall with two Rodin drawings on it and a few photographs of sculptures.

Cantor Fitzgerald consists of eSpeed, an electronic bond trading subsidiary that is a publicly traded company, and an equity division. Company officials and analysts said both are recovering.

The eSpeed system survived the trade center attack and was operational when the bond markets re-opened. The company is paid for each trade it makes, and it recently has benefited from the federal government's rising debt.

"Anytime debt comes due, (the federal government) has to issue new debt," translating into more revenue for eSpeed, said Richard X. Bove, an analyst with Hoefer & Arnet. The company's stock is up 61 percent since March, near a 52-week high. Cantor Fitzgerald owns 48 percent of eSpeed.

ESpeed's survival gave Cantor Fitzgerald a base on which to rebuild its equity division. It's that division that gives profits to family members.

Company officials say business there is improving steadily as well. It expects to earn $110 million this year, of which $27.5 million will go to families. And it expects to expand its Shrewsbury equity trading office from 35 employees to as many as 50 by the middle of next year.

"It's getting a little more comfortable, but will it ever be the same? It can't," said Craig Cummings of Rumson, manager of sales and trading for Cantor Fitzgerald in New Jersey. "There are people doing similar jobs, and it's a similar situation on the trading floor, but a lot of people are missing, and they can't be replaced."

Cummings has been with the company 10 years, and he was one of the few employees not in the trade center when a plane struck the building. And he said he is dealing with his grief by working without pause.

Family members of victims said the company has gone way beyond their expectations. In all, Cantor Fitzgerald has provided $120 million to family members. It plans to donate all of its revenue today to its charitable fund.

But families say the company has bent over backward to provide other services as well. It studied the victims' compensation fund to determine whether families should accept the government's financial offer in exchange for not filing lawsuits. Howard Lutnick, the company's chief executive officer, still answers phone calls and e-mails personally. And later this year, it plans to offer free financial counseling.

"They keep us constantly in tune with everything that's going on, every issue you can imagine," said Jennifer Sands, of Brick, whose husband, Jim, was a strategic development engineer at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Over the past year, the media attention has faded. A new work force has settled in, but "they have been just as good to us now as last year," Sands said.

To see more of the Asbury Park Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.app.com

(c) 2003, Asbury Park Press, N.J. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

"New York Financial Firm Cantor Fitzgerald Rebuilds from Sept. 11, 2001, Loss." Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. 2003. HighBeam Research. (October 3, 2010). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-107584777.html

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