LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) - The Madrid stock exchange is looking to acquire small post-trading services firms to better serve its core banking customers and has up to 600 million euros ($686 million) to spend, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Javier Hernani, CEO of bourse operator BME, said the exchange was not yet in any talks on prospective acquisitions, but has completed “very advanced analysis” of which clearing, custody, stock lending or collateral operations could be worth buying.
Banks have to carry out these operations themselves at great cost, and Hernani said the BME could offer them more cheaply as part of its broader services.
“We will do what we think is reasonable. We have no calendar to do something quickly,” Hernani told reporters during a visit to London.
He said the BME has 100 million euros of excess cash on its balance sheet, which could be leveraged to 600 million euros.
“We want to enhance the neutrality of the BME. We have to convince them (the banks). It’s not a done deal. It’s a reasonable way to grow and to fortify the BME,” Hernani said.
It would take BME too long to develop such services from scratch rather than buying them.
“In my opinion somebody will come in and try, so why not BME?”
Stock exchange operators have long been prone to takeover talk - Deutsche Boerse and the London Stock Exchange failed three times to merge, leaving rivals including BME hesitant.
“Other exchanges are not, at this moment, our priority,” Hernani said.
There is talk in the industry that the European Commission is looking again at introducing an EU tax on financial transactions, this time based on a share trading levy in place in France.
“We are completely against it. It’s a bad idea,” Hernani said. ($1 = 0.8751 euros) (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)