MF Global Fights for Survival

NEW YORK (TheStreet -- If MF Global (MF) could use rumors as collateral, the firm would be in good shape. Instead, market insiders are saying the company will struggle for survival over the weekend.

It is a potential death spiral that is being compared to the weekend bloodbath at Bear Stearns, but it's difficult to determine what is true and what is false.

What is known is that according to The Wall Street Journal, MF hired Evercore Partners to explore options, or as some call it -- a bankruptcy adviser. Moody's ( MCO) and Fitch Ratings cut the firm's credit rating to near junk status on Thursday, with Moody's giving it a Ba2 and Fitch giving it a BB+. The downgrade will cause borrowing costs to rise, making it even harder for MF Global to operate.

Dodd-Frank helps stem contagion of MF Global

Another rumor came from the blog Zero Hedge, which suggested that maybe MF Global dumped its U.S. Treasuries on the market on Thursday and that it was drawing down credit lines and was in need of cash. This would make sense, as once source said they were told to quit trading with MF Global. That is a perfect recipe for a run on the bank as customers start fleeing, and it is a repeat of the Bear Stearns saga. Nervous traders start pulling out, and no one wants to be the last guy walking out the door empty-handed.

The futures business is the largest part and the crown jewel of MF Global, according to industry watchers.

Also, some employees were let go just a few weeks ago, making it look as if the company was cleaning up its balance sheet and dressing up its windows for a buyer. One current employee said they were told the "retail" side of the futures business would be fine. That comment speaks volumes as it doesn't address the rest of the company.

One definite loser is Fine Capital. The hedge fund raised its stake in MF Global by nearly 2 million shares, according to the firm's 13-D filing. MF Global was trading at roughly $7 a share at the end of June; it's now closer to $1.20. That would be a beat down of roughly $60 million. Other big holders include RS Investment Management, Cadian Capital Advisory Research and TIAA-CREF Investment management. Another big loser is John MacDonald, the global head of retail at MF Global, who owns 488,426 shares.

-- Written by Debra Borchardt in New York

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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