ICE targets partial Euronext sale before IPO

IntercontinentalExchange hopes to sell at least 25 percent of exchange operator ahead of public listing later this year

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) has announced that it hopes to sell at least a quarter of Euronext – acquired as part of an $11 bn takeover deal last November – before the European exchange operator’s IPO later this year.

The organization, which operates derivatives exchanges, clearing houses and – since November – equity exchanges, is considering the sale in order to get around regulations that require ICE to maintain a significant interest in Euronext.

The Financial Times reports that a number of European funds and banks will be approached in the coming weeks about buying a stake in the firm, which still operates the main exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Madrid.

ICE gained approval for November’s takeover from European regulators after making assurances it would retain a 25 percent stake in Euronext for at least three years after its public float. The company could avoid that requirement, however, by finding other long-term investors that maintain the position in Euronext during its IPO.

Jeff Sprecher, ICE’s chief executive, intimated in November that his firm could sell its stake to appropriate shareholders. ‘We’ve agreed with regulators that the new shareholder base should include stable long-term shareholders that will consider the long-term interest of the new Euronext and its markets, and this could also include ICE remaining as a continuing shareholder in a reduced capacity for a period of time,’ he said.

‘I suppose anything could ultimately happen, but our shareholders are going to want us to effect the highest-value transaction actionable in the shortest amount of time... so it seems the best outcome is an IPO.’

In the meantime, ICE will continue to operate the NYSE and has targeted integrating Liffe, London’s derivatives exchange, into its other European exchange, ICE Futures Europe. Sprecher also told investors in November that there was ‘no possibility of moving forward’ with Euronext’s IPO until such restructuring has taken place.

Euronext also announced several changes to the structure of its senior management this week, which its CEO Dominique Cerutti claims will ‘accelerate our targeted growth opportunities in Europe by bringing outstanding additional talent to our leadership team as we address the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive global landscape.’

Anthony Attia has been promoted to fill the newly created role of CEO at Euronext Paris, while Lee Hodgkinson will head up the firm’s markets and global sales team, before becoming CEO of Euronext London once the Financial Conduct Authority approves its Recognised Investment Exchange status.

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