March 6, 2018 / 6:17 PM / in 10 months

Chicago Stock Exchange says seeking new potential buyers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Chicago Stock Exchange on Tuesday said it was looking for new potential buyers after regulators blocked the sale of the bourse to a group led by China-based investors due to what they said was a lack of information about the would-be owners.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission killed the roughly $25 million deal in February, ending a two-year effort by the exchange, known as CHX, to sell itself to a consortium led by China’s Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group and its U.S. affiliate North American Casin Holdings.

CHX’s board of directors is now exploring “strategic alternatives,” including a potential sale, the exchange said in a statement on Tuesday.

When the Casin deal was first announced in February 2016, CHX, a niche player with a market share of around 0.5 percent, said it planned to use the funds for efforts like reviving its corporate listings program, including for Chinese companies seeking to list in the United States. Casin also said it planned to eventually build an exchange in China using CHX technology.

The politically sensitive deal was originally approved by the SEC staff, but the agency’s commissioners, led by Jay Clayton, an appointee of U.S. President Donald Trump, stayed the decision pending their own review.

When it blocked the sale, the SEC said CHX could not provide key information it had requested, including access to the potential owners’ books. The regulator also said it was not convinced the exchange would be properly monitored after a deal.

CHX has also proposed giving certain trading firms faster access to orders on the exchange if they agree to strict trading obligations aimed at making it easier for others to buy and sell stocks.

The SEC originally approved that plan, but the approval was also stayed by the SEC’s commissioners, who have yet to issue a final ruling.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Tom Brown

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