Leaders in Trading 2023: Meet the nominees for… Outstanding Dark Trading Venue

Learn more about the four firms shortlisted for The TRADE’s 2023 Editors’ Choice Award for Outstanding Dark Trading Venue: including Cboe BIDS Europe, Goldman Sachs’ Sigma X, Liquidnet and Virtu POSIT.

By Editors

Next up in our Leaders in Trading 2023 Editors’ Choice Awards write up series, we bring you the shortlisted candidates for Outstanding Dark Trading Venue, showcasing exceptional performance in the non-disclosed trading arena.

Over the last year, these dark trading venues have helped innovative the marketplace with a range of expansions in their respective product suites and expansions into new markets, alongside boasting increased volumes – making for a very competitive award category.

Among the key players in this competitive landscape, The TRADE has selected Cboe BIDS Europe, Goldman Sachs’ Sigma X, Liquidnet and Virtu POSIT for the 2023 shortlist, following various individual achievements by these venues over the past year.  

Cboe BIDS Europe

A relatively new player in this space, Cboe makes another appearance in this category following a win last year for its European block trading platform, Cboe BIDS Europe. Cboe offers a range of dark trading services in Europe, including its reference price waiver venue and a large-in-scale service, Cboe BIDS Europe. Both mechanisms are operated in Europe and the UK and each have been the largest services of their type every month in 2023, according to the firm. Over the past 18 months, Cboe BIDS Europe has continued to add users to its platform, grow volumes and improve functionality. Cboe BIDS Europe also extended its run of being Europe’s largest block trading platform to 18 consecutive months as of September 2023.

The block offering anonymously brings together the block flow of both the buy- and the sell-side while also strengthening existing client-broker relations. For all their trades via BIDS, the buy-side face and pay commissions to a designated broker of their own choosing. Elsewhere, to expand the platform and differentiate its liquidity proposition, Cboe has started to allow traditional sales trading and trading teams to leverage the BIDS network to find natural contras for high touch block trades via its Directed Indications of Interest (IOI) service. Alongside aiding desks to find block liquidity, the DIOI features also creates a commission for the broker.

Goldman Sachs, Sigma X

Goldman Sachs’ pan-European MTF, Sigma X, is the only bank owned MTF in Europe operating non-displayed books and is the second largest periodic auction by market share according to data from big xyt. Goldman Sachs told The TRADE that its commitment is to give participants increased trading opportunities and improve market convenience continues to grow as it leverage the firm’s trading platform and client servicing.

Sigma X, despite a challenging and increasingly competitive landscape, has managed to maintain non-displayed market share year-on-year, driven by the addition of conditional order to the dark books. Designed to complement existing liquidity, the new feature helps investors minimise trading costs and market impact when trading large orders. According to the firm, Sigma X dark venues have experienced record daily volumes this year, while also more than doubling its market share.


Over the last 22 years, Liquidnet has strived to make equity trading smarter and more seamless for the buy-side.  Liquidnet’s buy-side community comprises of a global network including more than 960 institutional investors within equities and a global footprint which allows the firm to source liquidity worldwide to create unique opportunities for its member community. Liquidnet’s average daily liquidity in its equities pool is $85 billion with an average execution size of $1.2 million in EMEA and $1 million in Asia Pacific.

Liquidnet specialises in hard to trade blocks, where larger executions occur – accounting for 37% of the >10x LIS market and 44% of >10 LIS fills originating from Liquidnet. The firm also partnered with TP ICAP Midcap to increase block liquidity opportunities in European small and mid-cap names. According to the firm, 60% of executions in the top 50 small and mid-caps were executed at Liquidnet. Last year, Liquidnet introduced its enhanced close strategy, allowing European traders to target the close as a benchmark or liquidity event for US equities, resulting in improved volume prediction models and incorporating close auction imbalance feeds, as well as optimised auction and continuous session participation Liquidnet also introduced features in EMEA including Surge Opportunity, which send alerts to traders, enabling them quickly take advantage of liquidity events created from dark blocks. Surge Opportunity was also expanded to the US earlier this year.


Over the last year, Virtu POSIT has continued to focus on the user experience while offering simplicity and transparency. This has been supported by Virtu’s technology, making it an efficient and trusted venue operator. POSIT has a long history, first launched in 1987, as a dark platform which brings together buy- and sell-side orders. Providing a fair trading environment for all participants has been a key contributor to POSITs success with POSIT Alert service and the rise of conditional liquidity which has increased again in 2023. Virtu continues to improve efficiency and reduce latency to make the platform one of the fastest venues available.  

Elsewhere, in June, Virtu POSIT addressed block market fragmentation with new the addition of new automated working in the POSIT Alert desktop, named Alert+. The functionality has bridged together POSIT Alerts ability to source blocks with Coverts dark capture techniques to deliver an increase in both hit and fill rates for POSIT participants. The upgraded workflow solution also allows users to immediately elect to route residual share quantities not filled on POSIT Alert to be executed in the dark via Virtu’s Covert algorithm. The solution is intended to give traders an increased opportunity to execute any residual and reduce execution risk by sourcing incremental dark liquidity and completing orders more quickly.