August 19, 2013

The Warsaw Stock Exchange agreed to buy a 30 percent stake in Aquis Exchange Ltd., the London-based trading system, as central Europe’s largest bourse operator expands outside its home market.

The Polish exchange will pay 5 million pounds ($7.8 million) in cash for the holding and will be able to nominate two non-executive directors to Aquis’s board, the companies said in a joint statement today. The transaction, which values London-based Aquis at 16.7 million pounds, is subject to U.K. regulatory approval.

The state-controlled bourse, founded two years after Poland’s communist government collapsed in 1989, is expanding overseas as Chief Executive Officer Adam Maciejewski seeks growth. Aquis plans to begin operations in October, offering trading of stocks listed on Europe’s 15 biggest markets.

“In a competitive and highly challenging environment, business diversification at an international level is a must for our company,” Maciejewski said in the statement. “We are looking for new opportunities.”

Alasdair Haynes, the former chief executive officer of alternative trading venue Chi-X Europe Ltd., founded Aquis last year. Aquis is selling a further 45 percent stake to private investors, leaving it 25 percent owned by employees.

“We want to get significant, meaningful market share in three to four years,” Haynes, who led Chi-X Europe until Bats Global Markets Inc. bought the company in 2011, said today at a press conference in Warsaw. “We want to have the platform live in the fourth quarter. Much depends on regulatory approval, which we hope to get within weeks.”

Konrad Krasuski & Nandini Sukumar