The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has emerged as a surprise contender to acquire Instinet, the electronic brokerage owned by Reuters.
In a statement today, Reuters has confirmed that it will "consider opportunities" to extract value from its 61.95% holding in Instinet: "Strategic alternatives are being considered by Reuters and Instinet, including a possible sale, merger or other business combination or corporate transaction."
While Reuters denied late last week that it was in any formal talks over a sale of Instinet, today's statement goes further: "As part of this review, Reuters, Instinet or their advisors may engage in discussions with third parties regarding such possible transactions. However, neither Reuters nor Instinet has determined to pursue any specific transaction."
The CME is identified as a potential suitor in a report in today's Financial Times, which suggests that a possible purchase would help it diversify beyond the futures business. The Chicago exchange has been working closely with Reuters on the development of new FX futures products.
Other more likely - and better funded - contenders for Instinet's hand include Archipalago, the New York Stock Exchange and any number of big Wall Street brokerage firms.,