Nymex fires opening shots for ICE

Nymex has made a $150 million cash bid for the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), and would also pay $67 million to shareholders of the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), according to a senior Nymex official.

The bid, which includes distribution of cash on the ICE books - around $100 million - values ICE at around $317 million, 20% of its estimated value when it purchased IPE three years ago.

A source at broker PVM, which owned two seats on IPE and that therefore owns both 'A' and 'B' shares in ICE said the deal was unlikely to be accepted. “It’s the opening salvo,” he said. “But it is a nice confirmation that the 'A' shares are actually worth something. Up to now it has been impossible to value the 'A' shares – now at least someone has put $150m on the 'A' shares.”

Under the terms of the ICE takeover of IPE, IPE shareholders would only be paid for their 'B' shares when the IPE had made the transition to fully electronic trading. “It looks like that isn’t going to happen,” said the PVM source, “And we’ve been hearing noises that ICE, we hope, is intending to pay us 'B' shareholders imminently, since it looks like open outcry is here to stay.”

Jeffery Sprecher, president of ICE was unavailable for comment but was reported in the Financial Times as being “insulted” by the offer. Richard Ward, IPE’s president in London, deferred all calls to Sprecher.

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