August 19, 2013

The Warsaw Stock Exchange confirmed on Monday it will take a 30 per cent stake in Aquis Exchange, a new European trading venue, in a deal that values the start-up at just over £18m.

The WSE will use its equity to take the majority stake which will be worth £5m. The central European bourse will also have the right to nominate two non-executive directors to the board.

WSE’s investment will make it the anchor investor in the new London-based venture as it prepares to come to market in coming months.

Established by a group of former executives that built Chi-X Europe into the region’s largest equity trading platform, Aquis is hoping to shake up its competition by offering a mobile phone-style ‘pay for what you consume’ data fee for traders.

It also signals an ambitious attempt by Adam Maciejewski, the new chief executive of WSE, to open up the Warsaw market to international investors and strengthen its dominant position as central Europe?s main financial centre.

Mr Maciejewski said the agreement would allow investors in Poland to access London, via Aquis’s pricing model. “There’s a lot of investors in Poland who want to invest abroad but there are no channels and we want to do it via Aquis,” he said.

Mr Haynes said Aquis’s fundraising had been oversubscribed by investors seeking to back the venture, which is set to go live in October, pending approval by UK regulators.

“We’ve always looked for a strategic holder who is not a competitor and not a user,” said Mr Haynes. “We have raised enough money to see us through to profitability.”

He said the agreement would allow Aquis to retain its independence, pointing out the industry was comfortable that Nomura, the invesment bank, owned a third of the equity of his previous employer Chi-X Europe.

Aquis wants to introduce tiered monthly subscriptions for trading, based on the volume of messaging traffic users generate.

Philip Stafford