Britain’s LSE Delivers ‘Determining’ $27 Bln Refinitiv Deal In Data Drive
27 billion offer aimed at offering trading across areas and currencies and creating the British company as a rival to Bloomberg. The deal, that was verified on Thursday and it is at the mercy of regulatory and shareholder approval, will increase LSE’s trading business beyond stocks and derivatives into currencies and make it a major distributor as well as inventor of market data. LSE Chairman Don Robert said of the purchase, which comes ten months after a consortium led by U.S. Blackstone completed a leveraged buyout of Refinitiv from Thomson Reuters. LSE LEADER David Schwimmer told journalists of the rationale for the move.
The sale of Refinitiv grades an instant turnaround for Blackstone, which a person acquainted with the deal said would increase the value of its investment. Ultimately Refinitiv shareholders will own a stake of around 37% in LSE but have significantly less than 30% of total voting rights. Robert will seat the bigger company and Schwimmer will be CEO, while Refinitiv CEO David Craig will join LSE’s professional committee and continues to run that business.
The deal’s origins date back to 2013 when Craig – then working Thomson Reuters’ Financial and Risk department – was released to Blackstone’s head of private equity Joseph Baratta at the Chelsea Flower Show, three sources told Reuters. EU competition regulators clogged LSE’s try to merge with rival Deutsche Boerse, the exchanges’ fifth try to combine, in 2017 and sources close to the Refinitiv deal expect full competition investigations, a season to 18 months that could take.But LSE professionals said these were assured the “rare and persuasive” offer would make it past the regulators.
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Asset managers have told regulators that exchanges are charging too much for data on talk about prices and LSE pressured that it would retain its commitment to “open access” following the offer. Schwimmer said, adding that LSE got no plans for any investments. While Schwimmer said it was early to comment on possible job losses too, LSE Chief Financial Officer David Warren said the areas where there were overlaps that could yield cost savings include property, technology, and corporate services. LSE expects the offer to complete by the next fifty percent of 2020 and will pay Refinitiv a rest fee of 198.3 million pounds if the merger is blocked by regulators.
The deal comes amid doubt over Britain’s exit from the European Union and Blackstone and Thomson Reuters run the risk that LSE stocks could fall if Britain leaves without a deal. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain from the bloc by October 31 with or without a deal, sending the pound to its the lowest level in more than two years. LSE has reorganized a few of its EU-exposed businesses already, starting an Amsterdam hub because of its Pan-European stock system Turquoise, and shifted European government bond trading to the Milan arm of its MTS platform. Schwimmer said, adding a “global footprint” was traveling the deal rather than Brexit.
Blackstone’s consortium, which includes Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Singaporean sovereign wealth account GIC Special Investments Pte Ltd, holds a 55% stake in Refinitiv. Thomson Reuters, which has the remainder and is the parent company of Reuters, will hold 15% of LSE, it said in another statement. The Canadian company added that the contract signed at that time Refinitiv was sold to the Blackstone-consortium for Reuters to provide news to Refinitiv for 30 years would remain in place. Advisers for LSE include CEO Schwimmer’s former company Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Robey Warshaw, and its own commercial broker Barclays while Refinitiv was advised by Evercore, Canson Jefferies and Capital. Thomson Reuters was advised by Guggenheim Securities.