US futures broker Refco has made a 15.525 pence per share cash offer for UK-based electronic exchange trading vendor EasyScreen.
The offer values the entire existing issued share capital of EasyScreen at £14.8 million. The Refco Group, which operates a joint venture business in the US with EasyScreen, already holds 9.09% of the vendor's issued share capital. The maximum amount payable in cash by Refco to acquire the remaining shares in the group is £13.5 million.
The approach has been welcomed by EasyScreen directors: "The board of EasyScreen has come to the conclusion that it needs a successful strategic partner with a strong financial balance sheet to fully develop its potential and has been actively exploring its options in this regard."
If the offer is declared unconditional, Refco says it will apply for a delisting of EasyScreen's shares on the London Stock Exchange.
In an interim second quarter results statement issued in December last year, EasyScreen chairman Philip Docker noted that the joint venture with Refco had shown a 30% growth in turnover over the previous quarter.
The acquisition by Refco is a bold move at a time when software patent issues cloud the prospects for ISVs in the electronic trading of futures and options. Refco is currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by Chicago's Trading Technologies, which claims the FCM has infringed two of its market display patents. The suit, filed in the Illinois District Court late last month, appears to target Refco Pro, the front-end trading screen marketed under the EasySolutions joint venture.