Nasdaq to buy eSpeed platform for $750 million

Mon Apr 1, 2013 4:53pm EDT

The Nasdaq logo is seen on the exterior of the Nasdaq MarketSite as a headline about the Facebook stock scrolls on the Times Square Newsticker, in New York, May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Nasdaq logo is seen on the exterior of the Nasdaq MarketSite as a headline about the Facebook stock scrolls on the Times Square Newsticker, in New York, May 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Nasdaq OMX Group Inc agreed to buy the eSpeed platform from BGC Partners Inc for $750 million in cash, providing the exchange operator an entry point in the electronic fixed income business - one of the largest and the most liquid cash markets in the world.

The deal gives Nasdaq more exposure to fixed income markets, at a time when falling stock trading volumes have spurred the exchange operator to find other income sources.

eSpeed operates a fully executable central limit order book for electronic trading in U.S. Treasuries.

The company expects to offer customers increased access to a greater variety of trading instruments as a result of the acquisition.

Nasdaq said last month it planned to create a market for trading shares of unlisted companies in a joint venture with trading platform SharesPost Inc.

The total consideration for deal is up to $1.23 billion, including an earn-out of up to $484 million of Nasdaq OMX common stock to be paid over 15 years, BGC said.

The acquisition of eSpeed helps diversify Nasdaq's offerings in the U.S., said Christopher Allen, an analyst at Evercore Partners.

"You always want some asset class diversification which Nasdaq really doesn't have in the U.S., where they just have cash, equity and equity options," he said.

The deal is expected to add to Nasdaq's earnings within the first twelve months after closing - expected by mid-2013 - the exchange operator said.

The risk for Nasdaq, however, is that it is buying eSpeed at a time when trading Treasuries might be at a cyclical low, Allen said. Deutsche Bank was the financial adviser to Nasdaq.

Nasdaq expects to fund the purchase with cash on hand and long-term debt.

Nasdaq shares closed at $32.01 on Monday.

(Reporting by Ashutosh Pandey in Bangalore and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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