UK Regulator Says to Probe Nasdaq’s Deal to buy Sweden’s Cinnober

The deal would also take out one of Nasdaq's rivals in the market for trading systems, clearing and surveillance tech.

Exchange operator Nasdaq’s $190 million proposed acquisition of Swedish financial technology provider Cinnober faces an in-depth antitrust probe by UK authorities. Britain’s Competition and Markets watchdog on Friday said it had opened an investigation into the deal to assess whether the buyout would significantly reduce competition in the sector.

With the Cinnober’s board already recommending the all-cash offer, the deal is set to close as early as securing the regulatory approval. It would also take out one of Nasdaq’s rivals in the market for trading systems, clearing and surveillance tech.

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An interim report will be published with provisional findings in the next few weeks, the CMA said. It further states:

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“The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if so, whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services.”

Optimistic Estimates Despite Dismal Results

Nasdaq said it expects the take-over would yield significant synergies in terms of product enhancement and cross-sale opportunities, with the transaction anticipated to achieve the company’s 10 percent return on invested capital objective over 3-5 years.

Cinnober is Sweden-headquartered provider of exchange ‎clearing technology, offering services to global stock ‎exchanges, clearing houses, banks, and brokerages. ‎Despite its improved net sales and recurring revenues in ‎‎2017, the company recorded an operating loss of SEK ‎‎93.4 million ($11.49 million) over the course of the year. ‎The operating loss marks a significant decline, relative to ‎‎2016’s operating profit of SEK 9.5 million.‎

Last year, the CMA told InterContinental Exchange (ICE), which owns the New York Stock Exchange, for the third time that it must sell Trayport, the energy trading technology shop it acquired for $650 million in December 2015. The Competition Appeal Tribunal also backed the ruling by the UK antitrust watchdog that the deal could curb competition in the European energy trading market.

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