Editor's letter

Just as a company's Christmas party is often a gauge of the financial success (or otherwise) of the organisation that year, so the parties that take place during London's IP Week every February are a good reflection of the energy industry's financial health. So it can only be good news that this year, IP Week registered its highest turnout ever. Almost 2,500 energy industry executives from around the world attended, according to the Energy Institute, and the whole event was, I'm reliably informed by veteran traders and brokers, more like the days of old in the boom times of the 1980s.

How much things can change in a year. I remember that last year, the Intercontinental Exchange's party was shunned by IPE brokers who were disgruntled with the exchange's drive to go electronic. They flocked to the Nymex party instead. This year, Ice's party was a raging success, a larger do than that put on by Nymex.

Some of last year's stalwarts of open-outcry trade are now banging the drum (or rather hitting the keyboard) for electronic order execution. As electronic exchange trade spreads through energy trading, so automation in trade capture, straight-through processing and middle office processes is also progressing. We discover which software companies are at the front of that drive, and where they were ranked by end-users in our Energy Risk software rankings poll on p.14.

The other trend grabbing headlines this year is the M&A activity of utility companies around the globe. At the time of writing, Gas Natural and E.ON are battling to buy Endesa, Suez and Gaz de France are set to merge, National Grid is taking over KeySpan and speculation is rife that General Electric and Macquarie Bank are vying to buy a stake in TXU. We'll be looking into this latest round of mergers and asking what it means for liberalisation and competition in these markets in our next issue.

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