Swiss exchange to bid for Spanish BME bourse

ZURICH (AFP) – Swiss stock exchange operator SIX said yesterday it planned to bid for Bolsas y Mercados Espanoles (BME) to create Europe’s third biggest operator, just as pan-European exchange Euronext signalled its own interest in the Spanish firm.

The Swiss group said in a statement that it was proposing an all-cash tender offer of EUR34 per share for BME, which was 33.9 per cent over its closing price last Friday, for a total of EUR2.84 billion.

BME’s share price surged more than 36 per cent in reaction to the Swiss bid, trading at EUR34.66 by mid-morning – above the SIX offer price.

The share price premium implies that investors were betting on a potential contest over BME which would likely result in a sweetened offer.

BME for its part called the SIX offer “amicable”, meaning it has the backing of the target company’s board.

Earlier yesterday, Euronext announced that it was in talks with BME with the aim of taking over the Spanish operator.

Euronext stressed though that the talks “may or may not lead to an offer being made” and a further announcement would be made “as and when appropriate”.

Euronext shares were 1.3 per cent higher in morning Paris trading, outperforming an overall weaker stock market.

There was no official Euronext reaction to the Swiss bid for BME, which notably runs the Madrid stock exchange where it compiles the benchmark IBEX-35 index. It also has a strong presence in Latin American stock trading.

SIX said it expects to keep BME’s stand-alone listing in the Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia Stock Exchanges.

“A combination with BME will bring direct and immediate benefits to the stakeholders of both our institutions, at a time when consolidation in global financial markets infrastructure is accelerating,” Chairman of the SIX Board Romeo Lacher said in the statement.

SIX Chief Executive Jos Dijsselhof, meanwhile, said that “this proposed transaction will give us the capability to invest in both groups and create a very strong platform to compete and innovate in the global financial market infrastructure sector”.

Euronext, which groups the exchanges in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Dublin and Oslo, is the biggest platform in Europe, followed by the London Stock Exchange, Deutsche Boerse and SIX.

A SIX-BME tieup would allow the new group to leapfrog the German exchange in Europe’s financial markets rankings.