The Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX) has hired San Francisco-based Financial Technology Partners to help it explore possible "financial and strategic alternatives" after being approached by "a number of interested parties".
FT Partners - an independent investment boutique focused exclusively on the financial technology sector - will help CHX explore various "strategic alternatives". FT Partners founder Steve McLaughlin will be the lead investment banker on the project.
Commenting on the move, Dave Herron, CEO, CHX, says: "We are well-situated to take advantage of potential strategic partnerships. A number of interested parties have approached us and we felt it wise to engage a top independent advisor to help lead the evaluation process."
In 2006 Bank of America, Bear Stearns, E*Trade Financial and Goldman Sachs made a combined $20 million equity investment in the Chicago exchange.
However since the investment CHX has come under pressure from shareholders to cash in on the consolidation that has been sweeping the US markets in recent years where smaller regional exchanges have been snapped up by larger players. Nasdaq said in October that it was acquiring the Boston Stock Exchange and a month later disclosed plans to buy the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Furthermore, in January Nyse Euronext said it had agreed a deal to buy the American Stock Exchange.
Earlier this week a group of CHX shareholders - thought to hold a collective 30% stake in the company - by-passed the exchange's management and contacted one of the financial institutions that invested in CHX to discuss "business opportunities".
In the CHX statement Herron says the goal of any partnerships would be to "increase shareholder value".
FT Partners has acted as the exclusive strategic and financial advisor on a number of high-profile transactions, including Liquidnet's equity financing, the sale of Automated Trading Desk to Citi, the sale of Wombat Software to Nyse Euronext, the sale of UK-based LatentZero to Fidessa and the acquisition by Investment Technology Group of both Macgregor and Plexus.