Swiss exchange signals interest in Euronext

ZURICH, March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:49pm EDT

ZURICH, March 27 (Reuters) - Swiss stock exchange operator SIX Group would consider bidding for its larger European competitor Euronext if the exchange were to come up for sale, SIX's chief executive said on Wednesday.

"Should ICE put Euronext up for sale, we would certainly take a look," CEO Urs Rueegsegger said at the Swiss exchange's annual media conference in Zurich, adding Euronext's equity and derivatives business were particularly of interest.

Euronext's clearing and settlement business and its financial information services could also be attractive for the Swiss firm, Rueegsegger said.

Euronext is currently owned by IntercontinentalExchange which said last December it planned to float Euronext after it completes its $8.2 billion acquisition of NYSE Euronext in the second half of this year.

Sources have told Reuters that ICE would consider selling Euronext as an alternative to floating it if bids were to emerge.

Global stock exchanges have been in a merger frenzy as aggressive, upstart trading platforms have eaten into the market shares of traditional players such as Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext, putting pressure on them to consolidate and to cut costs.

Rueegsegger said he expected a lot of interest in Euronext which operates exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon. According to analysts the company could be worth between one billion euros and two billion euros ($1.28-$2.56 billion).

Euronext is considerably bigger than SIX. Size plays an important role in the exchange business because of the relatively high fixed costs.

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