ICE would weigh Euronext sale for right offer: sources

Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:56pm EST
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By Sophie Sassard and Andreas Kröner

LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - IntercontinentalExchange (ICE.N: Quote) would consider selling Euronext as an alternative to floating it if bids for the European stock market emerge during ICE's planned $8.2 billion takeover of NYSE Euronext, three sources close to the exchange said.

"Today, the plan is work on an IPO. But, of course, if some parties offered to acquire all or part of Euronext, then why not? We'll be pragmatic," a source familiar with ICE's plans said on Thursday.

ICE said last month it planned to float Euronext after it completes its acquisition of NYSE Euronext in the second half of this year. But the sources said ICE would also consider a sale, which could be easier to complete than an initial public offering (IPO) and could fetch a higher price.

One potential bidder has already indicated an interest in Euronext, which analysts have said could be worth between 1 and 2 billion euros, based on comparative market valuations.

Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ.O: Quote) Chief Executive Robert Greifeld told Reuters on Wednesday he would "take a look" at Euronext if it became available.

A source close to the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: Quote) did not rule out making an offer, but said it was "early days" and played down the chances of a bid, since the LSE's current priorities were derivatives and clearing rather than stock trading.

Deutsche Boerse (DB1Gn.DE: Quote), the Frankfurt-based group that failed to merge with NYSE Euronext last year, has ruled itself out of buying Euronext due to the weakness of the European share trading business, three people familiar with the company told Reuters.

The official line remains that Euronext is not on the block. NYSE Euronext deputy chief executive Dominique Cerruti told Reuters on Wednesday: "Euronext is not for sale", and a spokeswoman for ICE declined to comment on the possibility.   Continued...