Imarex buys Spectron

The deal “substantially strengthens Imarex’ position as a premier trading and clearing hub for the commodity and energy derivatives markets worldwide,” according to an Imarex statement.

The acquisition will allow Imarex to expand its product offering. The Norwegian company already offers electronic trading and clearing of freight futures, along with power, fuel oil and emissions products, and Spectron is particularly strong in UK and continental European power and gas. “We have been stating since last year that we have ambitions to go into the European energy markets, and expand on our business model of clearing and marketplace infrastructure,” says Imarex CEO Herman Michelet.

The two companies have been in discussions for around five months, according to Spectron Group CEO Andrew Stephens. “I imagine that we provide a shortcut for Imarex to reach their ambitions,” he says, pointing out that Spectron offers a global presence including the US and Asia.

Stephens says the companies share the same ethos on electronic trading. “We were the first to launch a successful electronic marketplace in gas and power in Europe, and we have the same vision in terms of seeing that these markets need a clearing solution,” he says.

Michelet agrees. “Spectron has a very similar mindset to us and they are very strong on the front end so the rationale is to combine that with the infrastructure that we have.”

There will be no redundancies at either company as a result of the deal, with Imarex retaining its 135 employees and Spectron its 150-strong staff. Spectron will continue to operate under the same name, with no major changes to the structure of either business. “There’s no overlap between the two businesses, so it’s a really good fit,” says Stephens.

Stephens felt that the price paid by Imarex was “fair”, adding that the response from Spectron clients to the deal has been positive. “It’s a good deal for our clients because we can offer more products – the Imarex offerings in the Nordic region will complement our continental power business, while freight will complement our coal business,” he says.

Nymex Holdings, the parent company of New York Mercantile Exchange, currently holds a 15% stake in Imarex ASA, and will take part in the share issue associated with the Spectron deal. “Nymex have been very supportive to the transaction and gave their backing immediately,” says Michelet, a sentiment that was echoed by a Nymex spokeswoman today. She declined to elaborate.

Nymex chairman Richard Schaeffer has already made clear that Nymex plans to expand its presence in Europe, and Imarex appears to be the vehicle for doing just that. “It’s a great opportunity for Nymex to take advantage of the uncertain clearing arrangements for European energy market participants,” said Schaeffer last year after taking the share in Imarex. Michelet indicated that he expects Nymex to increase its holding in Imarex this year.

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