The London Stock Exchange is in talks to buy its main clearing house LCH.Clearnet, a deal that could snatch the prized European asset from under the noses of data vendor Markit and exchange rival Nasdaq OMX.
The LSE, which failed two months ago to buy Canadian exchange operator TMX Group, said on Friday “it is currently in discussions with LCH.Clearnet regarding a possible transaction,” adding the talks are “at an early stage”.
The statement came just three months after LCH.Clearnet, which is majority owned by its clients, said it had received approaches about a sale.
The LSE said in late May it was not in talks with LCH.Clearnet over a deal, while Nasdaq OMX and over-the-counter derivatives specialist Markit, working in partnership with NYSE Euronext , were linked to a deal.
A takeover would make sense for the LSE because it differs from most of its top exchange rivals in not owning its main clearing house and would reposition the exchange at a time when clearing is a key focus for European regulators.
The LSE already owns Italian clearing house CC&G, a business it inherited through its 2007 acquisition of Borsa Italiana, but LSE Chief Executive Xavier Rolet is keen to diversify the business and grow the group’s clearing revenue.
“LSE want part of the action but probably don’t want to be in a bigger group with NYSE and Markit. Also CC&G doesn’t represent a key channel for them otherwise in clearing,” said the head of trading at a large investment bank in London.