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Report: SIX Swiss Exchange evaluating potential acquisition of EU-based bourse

The SIX Swiss Exchange Ltd. is considering a potential acquisition of a stock exchange based in the European Union should the ban on trading of Swiss equities in the bloc continue or escalate, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A possible transaction could see the SIX Swiss Exchange, which has roughly $1 billion in its war chest for acquisitions, purchasing an EU-based bourse partially or fully or clinching a partnership, according to the sources. Among potential targets are the Spanish Bolsas y Mercados Españoles Sociedad Holding de Mercados y Sistemas Financieros and the Austrian Wiener Börse AG, one of the sources said. However, two of the sources noted that the plan has not yet progressed into concrete discussions.

SIX Group AG, which operates the SIX Swiss Exchange, is prioritizing deals to expand its financial information business, the sources added. SIX Group's CEO, Jos Dijsselhof, told local newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung that the company could reduce its stake in Worldline SA worth more than CHF3 billion to finance any acquisitions, Bloomberg wrote.

The EU opted not to extend a temporary equivalence regime for Switzerland, which refused to endorse a long-negotiated partnership treaty with the bloc. The regime, which allowed EU investors to access Swiss stock exchanges, effectively ended July 1.

Jürg Schneider, head of SIX Swiss Exchange's media relations, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that there is no need for the bourse to make such an acquisition as the measures implemented by the Swiss Federal Council have resulted in a significant increase in volumes in July compared with those recorded in June and a year ago.

"[O]ur focus is in the area of financial information, not in the stock market area," he added.