Plus Markets to sell trading platform PLUS Trading Solutions

Plus Markets Group plc (LON:PMK), the operator of the UK exchange PLUS, said on Friday it would sell its fully-owned trading technology platform PLUS Trading Solutions Limited (PLUS-TS) to Forum Trading Solutions Limited for GBP281,251 (USD437.120/EUR346,100).

Forum Trading Solutions was established by Hirander Misra, the former co-founder and COO of Chi-X Europe, Tony Harrop, the CTO of Plus Markets Group, Richard Atkins, former chief of Trading System Management & Development at the LSE, and all eight employees of PLUS-TS.

The deal comes after Plus Markets Group agreed in May to sell equity exchange PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX) to British interdealer broker ICAP Plc (LON:IAP), subject to shareholders approval and clearance from the FSA regulator.

Subject to that deal being finalised, PLUS-TS would enter into a minimum nine-month term contract to offer technology platform services to Icap and continue support for PLUS-SX’s markets.

With the sale of PLUS-TS, Plus Markets Group will be able to boost its cash balances as it would remove the unit from its ongoing operating costs, it said. The group’s board called on shareholders to vote in favour of the deal at their upcoming meeting.

These moves follow an announcement from 14 May by PLUS Stock Exchange saying it would close down as it had failed to find a buyer during the formal sale process unveiled in February.

The company explained then it was seeking to secure the financial position of the PLUS exchange and the continued operations of its units PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), RIE, PLUS Trading Solutions Limited (PLUS-TS), and PLUS Derivatives Exchange Limited (PLUS-DX).

Forum Trading Solutions’ managing director Tony Harrop commented on the deal today, saying that after the PLUS team was looking at a wind-down last month, this transaction ensures the best outcome for PLUS quoted companies as no change will be made to their service.

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ICAP reaches last minute deal to acquire PLUS Markets

British interdealer broker ICAP Plc (LON:IAP) said it had reached an agreement to buy company equity exchange PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX) from its parent Plus Markets Group plc (LON:PMK) for a token price of GBP1.00 (USD1.60/EUR1.24).

Plus Markets was planning to close the exchange last week, after failing to attract a buyer.

The deal for the loss-making exchange needs to secure the approval of PLUS Markets Group shareholders and clearance from the financial regulator FSA, the buyer said.

ICAP, a top interdealer broker for the wholesale financial markets offering voice broking as well as electronic trading, is in a good position to leverage the exchange status of PLUS to provide new products and solutions, including listed derivatives in the future, the buyer said.

The agreement comes after PLUS Stock Exchange confirmed the negotiations with ICAP on 17 May for a nominal value deal due to the loss making nature of its unit.

Earlier on 14 May, PLUS Stock Exchange said it would close down as it had failed to find a buyer during the formal sale process unveiled in February aimed at securing a partner to help it achieve the scale and reach needed to maximise shareholders value.

The company explained then it was seeking to secure the financial position of the PLUS exchange and the continued operations of its units PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), RIE, PLUS Trading Solutions Limited (PLUS-TS), and PLUS Derivatives Exchange Limited (PLUS-DX).

In its current statement, ICAP said it remains totally committed to supporting and expanding the equities listings venue that offers growth capital for small firms, while exploring other possibilities.

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PLUS stock exchange planning to close down as sales process falters

PLUS Markets Group plc (LSE:PMK), a British stock exchange for smaller firms, announced today that it is planning to close.

A formal sale process was launched by PLUS in February and the board of directors has considered various alternatives, such as potential offers for the company, offers of funding through a placing for shares in the company, the injection of capital into a subsidiary, the sale of certain assets and loan financing. Discussions were held with various interested parties, including major international stock exchanges and trading platforms, inter dealer brokers, technology providers, private equity and other wealth funds.

It was revealed in April that indicative proposals had been put forward by a number of parties, but PLUS announced today that an acceptable takeover offer has not been received to date and the company’s cash reserves have decreased.

The loss-making group has now informed the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that it intends to commence a process of “orderly closure”. In order to minimise market disruption, the plan is to wind down its regulated activities, including the operation of PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), over a period of up to six months. This will be done in consultation with the FSA.

During the winding-down process PLUS has pledged to work to ensure that companies traded on the PLUS-quoted market are able to find suitable alternative arrangements for the trading of their shares.

For the time being the PLUS market will continue to operate as normal.

PLUS said that its board will continue to explore all possible options to preserve the remaining shareholder value, including any offers for the company’s remaining assets. The board will then consider what steps to take to either return any residual value to shareholders or to convert the company into an investing company under AIM Rules.

As well as PLUS Stock Exchange plc (PLUS-SX), PLUS operates PLUS Trading Solutions Limited (PLUS-TS) and PLUS Derivatives Exchange Limited (PLUS-DX).

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