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Bloomberg apologizes for crashed terminals after IT meltdown halts London trading

Financial software and data provider Bloomberg has apologized for an IT meltdown which affected its 320,000 users' terminals around the world. A weekly bond sale in London had to be delayed.

The whole of the London trading day had passed before Bloomberg could announce the situation had been resolved.

Problems began on Friday morning in London as Asian markets closed and Europe's opened at 8.20 am London time. Trading screens were blank for most of the following two hours. By the time US markets opened, most Bloomberg terminals were back up and running.

Bloomberg's screens are used by traders of government bonds as well as shares and other financial instruments.

The company issued a statement explaining the problem: “We experienced a combination of hardware and software failures in the network, which caused an excessive volume of network traffic."

"This led to customer disconnections as a result of the machines being overwhelmed," Bloomberg explained.

"We discovered the root cause quickly, isolated the faulty hardware, and restarted the software. We are reviewing our multiple redundant systems, which failed to prevent this disruption," the company added.

The US firm said there had not been a cyber attack.

Around 4pm local time in London, Bloomberg tweeted: “Service has been fully restored. We apologise to our customers for the disruption.”

According to Fortune, 320,000 people worldwide use Bloomberg terminals, which cost about $20,000 (18,500 euros) a year. A significant number were affected by the IT problem on Friday.

The UK Debt Management Office postponed its weekly tender of Treasury bills on Friday morning, but was able to carry out the debt sale in the afternoon.

Telephone and Twitter

During the day, as traders were unable to use their terminals, they placed their orders by telephone instead. The volume of trading in German Bund futures during the two hour period when screens were blank was down by about a third compared with the same period in the previous Friday trading sessions. Traders also took to Twitter under the hashtag #bloombergdown:

The outage was a signal of how dependent traders have become on Bloomberg terminals, and the 'chat' facility for reaching their clients. It was also an indicator of Bloomberg's dominant place in the trading terminal market.

The Bloomberg data terminals are the center of the business empire that Michael R. Bloomberg founded in 1981. He returned to lead the company last year after serving three terms as mayor of New York City.

Bloomberg has become the world's biggest financial information provider, overtaking rival Reuters. The company is privately held and is not obliged to divulge financial information. In September it said revenue grew to more than $9 billion in 2014.

jm/bw (Reuters, AP)