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Finance Glossary

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Block Trade


When a company or a group of investors wants to buy a big bunch of bonds, stocks, or other securities, the deal is called a block trade. It often involves arranging a price beforehand and usually means that the trade happens outside of the open markets (because big trades like that could cause some investors to panic or could affect the markets too much). 


Fidelity wants to sell 100 million shares of their Cisco holdings in one shot. They don't want to wait for the quarter to be announced and are nervous about the whole market. They call their friendly broker and ask for help in finding a buyer or three. The broker makes a bunch of gentle inquiries to buyers with whom he regularly does business and who he knows have pockets deep enough to pay Fidelity the couple billion dollars they'll want in return for the shares. When buyers have been found and a price agreed to, the trade happens in one big fat block.