Liberty Broadband rights: Don’t trade deep-in-the-money derivatives

Liberty Broadband is issuing warrants in its rights offering.  Personally, I would be very careful/hesitant about trading those rights.  There is an arbitrage between the rights and the common stock.  This is the kind of arbitrage that high frequency trading is really good at exploiting.  Suppose that the common stock moves 30 cents in less than a second.  Any limit orders for the rights might be trading at the old price 30 cents away.  Somewhere in that time window, it is possible for somebody with a very fast trading system to calculate the correct value of the rights (which is a deep-in-the-money warrant) and pick off any old orders trading based off of slower quotes.  If very few investors trade that particular deep-in-the-money derivatives, there will be adverse selection.  If your order fills, you will likely be trading with a market maker or HFT who is ripping you off.  For good order execution on derivatives, you want to be trading with other investors and not HFTs.

My rule of thumb is to never trade deep-in-the-money options/warrants.  The way I would avoid being on the wrong side of the arbitrage is to trade the common shares instead of the rights.

Exercise the oversubscription privilege

I predict that somewhere between 0% to 1% of rights owners will forget to exercise their rights.  If you look back at the Liberty Ventures rights offering, not everybody exercised their rights.  This will result in a tiny amount of free money for everybody else.

EDIT (1/16/2015):  It turns out my prediction was wrong.  2% of rights owner did not exercise (Liberty Broadband press release).

The SEC filing for the rights gives an overview of the rights with frequently asked questions.

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