IntercontinentalExchange has played down reports that it had made an offer to take over online flea market eBay, but confirmed that talks have taken place.
In a statement, the global exchange and clearing house operator said: "ICE approached eBay to explore a range of potential opportunities that might create value for the shareholders of both companies. eBay has not engaged in a meaningful way. We are not in negotiations regarding the sale of all or part of eBay."
While eBay has been under pressure from shareholders to hive off its classified ads unit, ICE was reportedly interested in buying eBay's core marketplace business and using its own technology platform to connect buyers and sellers.
Gossip in financial circles put a $30 billion valuation on any potential deal.
Despite the denials, ICE remains in acquisition mode, stating: "Over ICE’s 20-year history, the company’s track record of creating shareholder value, both through organic growth and acquisitions, speaks for itself. ICE does look to explore potential opportunities that it expects will deliver enhanced shareholder value, and will continue to do so in the future."
As if to underline ICE's interest in new markets, the exchange operator has today agreed to acquire Bridge2 Solutions, a provider of loyalty services for merchants and consumers.
Following the completion of the transaction, Bakkt, a majority-owned subsidiary of ICE, intends to acquire Bridge2 Solutions from ICE using proceeds from Bakkt’s Series B round of funding, which is expected to close later this quarter.
Jeffrey Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO of ICE, says: “With the launch of the Bakkt Warehouse and Bakkt futures and options markets, the company has achieved quick success with its custody and trading offering. Bakkt’s second round of funding, and its acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions, will help accelerate the development of Bakkt’s consumer application, which has been a key part of our strategy since we first looked at this market.”
Bridge2 powers programmes for seven of the top ten financial institutions and 4,500 loyalty, incentive and employee perk programmes for companies across a wide spectrum of industries.
“With the launch of the Bakkt app, we will, for the first time, offer consumers a robust platform to consolidate and use all of their digital assets, from crypto to loyalty points to in game tokens, in one user-friendly wallet,” says Mike Blandina, CEO of Bakkt. “Combining Bridge2 Solutions’ embedded relationships with banks and merchants and their innovative Loyalty Pay solution will enable us to launch new products that further drive loyalty and empower consumers to trade, transfer and spend digital assets in entirely new ways.”