Euronext sees no pause in hunt for takeover targets during pandemic

LONDON (Reuters) - Pan-European exchange Euronext ENX.PA said on Wednesday it has room to spend over 500 million euros ($541 million) on acquisitions without having to raise equity, and saw "no pause" in the hunt for targets.

Euronext Chief Executive Stephane Boujnah said the push to diversify revenues away from volume-based trading of shares continues despite the coronavirus pandemic rattling investors and prompting heavy trading volumes in March to boost profits.

“I don’t expect any pause in M&A,” Boujnah told a media call to discuss the exchange’s first quarter results.

Euronext Chief Financial Officer Giorgio Modica said the exchange has “firepower” in excess of 500 million euros to make an acquisition without having to raise equity.

Revenues in the first three months of the year jumped 55.2% to 236.8 million euros compared with the same period in 2019. Net profit rose 71.2% to 96.1 million euros.

The increases were partly driven by very heavy trading in March as investors dumped shares in the face of lockdowns to fight the pandemic.

Boujnah said Euronext would continue to spend in a “disciplined manner” as highlighted by its decision not to make a counter offer for the Madrid Bourse, which has agreed to be acquired by the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Boujnah told Reuters last month he was interested in the Milan Exchange, if it were to be put on the block. [nL8N2BT0ID}

Euronext has operations in Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, London and Oslo, and is in the middle of acquiring VP Securities, the Danish settlement house.

“This acquisition will allow us to pursue the diversification of our topline and represents a new milestone towards our ambition of building the leading pan-European market infrastructure,” Boujnah said.

Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise