UK exchange operator PLUS Markets Group is to wind down its operations after failing to find a buyer for its business through a formal sale process.
The firm put itself up for sale on 3 February, hoping to use the funds to strengthen its balance sheet and expand recently-launched initiatives.
Despite receiving offers from a number of companies – including major stock exchanges and trading platforms, interdealer brokers, technology providers and private equity funds – PLUS was unable to find a suitable partner. The firm’s board also considered other fund options including share issuance, selling certain assets and loan financing.
The exchange operator will now close its doors over the next six months, which it says should ensure companies listed on its exchange can find suitable alternative arrangements for the trading of their shares.
Adverse trading conditions for small- and medium-cap companies since the financial crisis had led PLUS to diversify into new business areas.
In July 2011, it received regulatory approval to launch PLUS-DX, a derivatives exchange offering institutional investors a means of accessing the underlying US dollar interest rate swap curve. However, the platform failed to take off and was forced to restructure its management at the end of last year following a bid from an unnamed suitor.
PLUS also formed PLUS-TS, a trading technology unit in conjunction with former Chi-X Europe COO Hirander Misra, which develops trading platform technology compliant with upcoming European regulation. According to Misra, PLUS-TS is capable of offering a trading venue that has a running cost equivalent to 20% of a typical multilateral trading facility. The unit has not announced any sales yet.
PLUS Markets Group is AIM listed and 17% owned by Amara Dhari Investments, a Middle-East-based investment vehicle that took its stake in the firm in September 2009.