Fortis to acquire clearing services provider O'Connor & Company

Source: Fortis

Fortis, the global financial services provider, today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Chicago-based O'Connor & Company, a leader in clearing services on U.S. equity, futures and options markets.

Fortis will combine its existing Chicago clearing operations with O'Connor, more than tripling its size and presence in this market. O'Connor & Company President and CEO William C. Floersch will become CEO of the combined organization. It will operate under the O'Connor name until full integration of the two firms is completed, after which it will assume the Fortis name. The two firms together will employ approximately 170 people in the U.S.

"We expect O'Connor & Company's outstanding people, client relationships and market knowledge will add significantly to our Chicago operations," said Frans Demmenie, CEO of Fortis Securities & Fund Solutions, part of Fortis Merchant Banking. "For Fortis, this acquisition is a key part of our global growth strategy, and an important expansion of our U.S. presence. Our goal is to provide our clients global reach with local focus and expertise."

"Derivatives trading volumes are expanding rapidly, and the combined firm of O'Connor and Fortis Clearing Chicago will place us in a much stronger position to service our current clients and capture additional business with a much broader array of products," said Floersch. "With the financial strength of Fortis, we hope to become an even more attractive clearing choice for clients both in and outside the U.S."

"We are extremely proud to join forces with O'Connor & Company," said Russell Levens, CEO of Fortis Clearing Chicago. "O'Connor is a recognized leader in this industry with a great reputation. We share a commitment to customer service and together will provide direct access to more markets. This acquisition gives Fortis access to the U.S. equity and equity derivative markets and significantly raises our profile in agricultural commodities." Levens will become Chief Commercial Officer and assume client management responsibilities for the combined organization.

The acquisition is expected to close in 60 to 90 days, subject to regulatory review and acceptance from exchanges and clearing organisations. According to Floersch and Levens, the two operations have minimal overlap in staff. The two businesses will operate separately until closing, then begin an integration process with the move of Fortis Clearing Chicago's staff into the larger O'Connor & Company offices at 175 W. Jackson Blvd. during the first quarter of 2006.

The transaction will have no material impact on Fortis' net profit per share.

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