The London Stock Exchange says it has entered into exclusive talks with pan-European equity trading platform Turquoise about a possible transaction.
Having scooped up Sri-Lankan trading technology vendor MillenniumIT for around £18 million last month, LSE chief Xavier Rolet is now ready to take Turquoise off the hands of its nine investment bank owners.
The banks began looking for a buyer a couple of months ago, sending out sales notices to as many as 18 potential bidders, including the LSE, as well as Deutsche Boerse, Nasdaq OMX, NYSE Euronext, SIX and Chi-X.
Market speculation about a possible move from the LSE has been rife after the exchange revealed yesterday that it has appointed Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley as M&A advisors, replacing Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Rothschilds.
In a brief statement, the bourse now says: "London Stock Exchange Group plc announces that it has entered into exclusive discussions with Turquoise Trading Limited, which may lead to a transaction. A further announcement will be made in due course."
Meanwhile, the LSE has also confirmed its intention to leave regional trade association, the Federation of European Securities Exchanges (FESE).
An LSE spokesman says "we are reviewing a number of our memberships across the organisation. We have decided to leave FESE and will seek to work more directly with regulators, legislators and the markets we serve across Europe."
Last week the FESE joined the growing chorus of criticism aimed at dark pools run by banks, arguing they are not properly regulated. But the LSE is seeking to work with banks on its Baikal dark pool - which may yet be superseded by the Turquoise platform.