* ICE secures anchor investors to buy 33 pct Euronext stake
* Euronext listing in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels at first
* Listing seen valuing Euronext at more than 1.5 bln euros
(Adds comments from Euronext CEO, details, background)
By Clare Hutchison
PARIS/LONDON, May 27 IntercontinentalExchange
Group (ICE) has lined up European long-term investors to buy a
third of Euronext in its upcoming listing, aiming to allay local
regulators' concerns that the pan-European bourse could be
snapped up by another foreign firm.
ICE said on Tuesday it was pressing ahead with the
initial public offering (IPO) of Euronext, which two sources
familiar with the matter said could value the European exchanges
business at more than 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion).
The U.S. group had always intended to spin-off Euronext
after its $11 billion deal last year to take over NYSE Euronext,
which gave it control of the New York Stock Exchange.
But its plans have been complicated by concerns in countries
such as France and the Netherlands that Euronext might fall into
the hands of a foreign rival such as the London Stock Exchange
European regulators approved ICE's takeover of NYSE Euronext
on condition it kept a 25 percent stake in Euronext for three
years, or found appropriate investors to replace it.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last month
that ICE had secured a group of European investors to buy 25-30
percent of Euronext.
The U.S. group said on Tuesday it had line up so-called
"anchor" investors to take a 33 percent stake.
The investors, including French banks BNP Paribas
and Societe Generale, Dutch firm ABN Amro,
Belgian government investment vehicle SFPI, European clearing
house Euroclear, and a unit of Portugal's Banco BPI,
will hold their shares for at least three years, ICE said.
They will be sold the shares at a limited discount to the
IPO price, it added.
The IPO will be on Euronext's Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels
bourses in the first instance, with a later listing in Lisbon
that will take place before the fourth quarter, ICE said.
It did not give further details on the timing or price of
the IPO because the prospectus for the listing has to be
approved by regulators. A source familiar with the matter said
earlier this month the IPO was scheduled for June.
The listing and anchor investors will return decision-making
at Euronext to Europe after it was centred in New York as part
of NYSE Euronext - something which had prompted some market
participants to leave Paris for London and elsewhere.
Euronext chief executive Dominique Cerutti told reporters on
Tuesday that he was confident of strong investor interest in the
IPO, despite a number of postponed listings and recent
lacklustre market debuts in London.
GROWING THE TOP LINE
Euronext operates equity, fixed income and derivatives
markets in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon. The business,
which reported profit of $36 million in its first quarter, has
also applied for recognised investment exchange status for its
Cerutti said the listing would allow the business to reduce
the footprint it inherited as part of NYSE Euronext, cutting
costs and improving efficiency. It has already started that
process, having renegotiated its contract with LCH.Clearnet, the
clearing house majority-owned by the London Stock Exchange.
"There is significant potential for optimisation, meaning
growing the top line," Cerutti said.
He added the newly public company would focus on product
innovation, particularly in derivatives, an initiative formerly
led by Liffe - Europe's second-largest derivatives exchange now
held by ICE.
Cerutti said regulatory changes that are pushing more
derivatives trading onto exchanges to improve transparency, bank
capital constraints encouraging firms to look elsewhere for
funding and positive economic trends in Europe should also
provide tailwinds for the business.
As part of the IPO, both retail and institutional investors
in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Portugal will be offered
a chance to buy shares, while institutional investors elsewhere
can participate through a private placement.
ICE will also offer shares at a discount to the IPO price to
all eligible Euronext employees in France, the Netherlands,
Belgium, Portugal and Britain.
($1 = 0.7325 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Andrew Callus in Paris and Freya Berry
in London.; Editing by Mark Potter)