May 23, 2018

By Philip Stafford

Aquis Exchange, a UK share trading venue, is planning to list in London in the next month, hoping to build on Europe’s recent regulatory overhaul of its equities market.
The group finalised its plans and distributed an initial public offering document around the City on Wednesday. It hopes to raise £12m in new money to give it a market capitalisation of around £73m, according to the document seen by the Financial Times.

It hopes a higher profile will attract a new wave of investors and users in its efforts to exploit Mifid II, Europe’s new flagship markets rules. Policymakers have tried to push more share trading on to transparent markets like Aquis, the London Stock Exchange, Deutsche Börse and Euronext and have imposed tougher standards on asset managers to show their investors they are getting the best prices for their deals on markets.

Aquis, which was founded in 2012, offers a mobile phone-style “pay for what you consume” data fee for traders. It also banned what it calls aggressive and predatory high-speed trading from its platform in an effort to lure big traders and asset managers to its venue.

It was founded in 2012 as a competitor to the dominant market operators like the LSE, Cboe Europe and other incumbent European exchanges.

It has carved out a 2 per cent share of equity trading in Europe, making it the continent’s ninth-largest equity trading venue. It also provides market data and trading technology.

Aquis is looking to list on Aim by the end of June and has appointed Liberum as its nominated adviser. The float will also see the Warsaw Stock Exchange, one of its anchor investors, sell out its 20 per cent stake. The WSE had initially bought a 30 per cent stake, which has been diluted in subsequent fundraisings, for £5m in Aquis’s first months of existence in 2013. That deal had valued Aquis at around £17m.

Other large shareholders, including chief executive Alasdair Haynes and former Barclays banker Rich Ricci, are retaining their stakes.
The group expects to make a pre-tax loss of £4m this year but is forecasting it will become profitable by 2020, when it expects revenues to have risen from £2m to nearly £10m, and its European market share to have grown to around 8 per cent.