Pan-European exchange Euronext says it plans to offer cheap trading in UK stocks in response to the London Stock Exchange's plans to launch a dealing service in one of its core markets, according to press reports.
Euronext chairman Jean-Francois Theodore told reporters at a conference call that the company would offer trading in FTSE 100 Index stocks with competitive fees. According to press reports, Euronext has already begun talks with potential market makers.
Theodore told a news conference that Euronext would offer UK customers service using its existing trading system and UK clearing and settlement tools. He would not comment on fee levels but said the offer would be launched "soon".
The comments follow the LSE's plans to launch a trading service in Dutch securities - called EuroSets - in May which, it says, will undercut Euronext fees by 40%. The Dutch market is one of Euronext's four equity markets along with Paris, Brussels and Lisbon.
Earlier this month, LSE said it had received membership applications for its EuroSets service from firms representing around 85% of the market in trading Dutch securities.
Theodore's comments were made as Euronext announced a 27% rise in profit for 2003 to EUR211.8 million, lifted by the EUR137.9m it received from the sale of its clearing house, Cleanet.
The exchange reported earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) of EUR273.7 million, up 15.1% from last year.