SIX Group Would Look at Euronext’s Markets, CEO Says

SIX Group, operator of the Swiss stock exchange, said it will consider NYSE Euronext’s European markets if they are offered for sale.

“We will take a look, everyone will take a look,” Urs Rueegsegger, chief executive officer of SIX, said in an interview in Zurich yesterday. “If Euronext attracts many potential buyers and they get the valuation they want, then that will be the next step in the consolidation process and encourage others. Euronext is about twice our size in trading volume, which means there will be significant synergy potential.”

IntercontinentalExchange Inc., the 12-year-old energy and commodity futures bourse, agreed on Dec. 21 to acquire New York-based NYSE Euronext for cash and stock worth $8.2 billion. NYSE Euronext and ICE said in December they plan to explore an initial public offering for the Euronext division, which operates exchanges in Paris, Lisbon, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Rueegsegger joins Deutsche Boerse AG Chairman Joachim Faber and Robert Greifeld, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.’s CEO, in expressing interest in the unit. NYSE Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer has said Euronext is not for sale.

“If there’s an IPO it would be a step on the way to a sale,” said Rueegsegger, who leads the largest of Europe’s exchanges to remain closely held. “It would be more attractive for an industry partner, for an exchange already in cash-equity trading and one who would benefit from both trading and the flow into post-trade.”

Shrinking Profits

Exchanges have sought to merge amid shrinking profits from securities trading. European regulators blocked Deutsche Boerse’s attempt to acquire NYSE Euronext in February 2012 amid concern it would damage competition in derivatives. The Swiss exchange, home to Nestle SA and UBS AG, rebuffed a takeover bid from the Frankfurt-based company in 2004.

Average daily volume for stocks listed on U.S. exchanges has declined every year since 2009, falling 18 percent in 2012 to a low of 6.42 billion shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 9.77 billion in 2009.

“The industry is in flux at the moment, so the talks will continue,” Rueegsegger said, adding that SIX isn’t for sale. “For the next 24 months, I don’t really expect the situation on volumes to improve. We’ll see a lot of cost cutting and attempted consolidation.”

SIX Group, owned by about 150 brokers and banks that are also users, was formed in a three-way merger at the start of 2008. It offers securities trading, post-trade services, financial information and data and payment transactions.

“While we will not change our own ownership structure, we can certainly take a look at others,” Rueegsegger said. “We have about 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.08 billion) on our balance sheet.”