March 18, 2019 / 6:52 AM / 6 months ago

Full war chest puts SIX Swiss Exchange on takeover hunt

ZURICH, March 18 (Reuters) - Flush with cash after selling its cards business, Swiss exchange operator SIX is on the hunt for takeovers, it said on Monday while reporting a sharp jump in 2018 profit.

Worldline's $2.75 billion deal in May to buy the payments unit of SIX Group helped swell SIX's 2018 profit to 2.88 billion Swiss francs from 207.2 million the year before.

Excluding the one-off gain, profit fell to 160.6 million as costs for the transaction and loss of revenue from the divested business weighed. Price cuts also reduced revenue by a double-digit million franc amount, finance chief Daniel Schmucki said.

"I don't expect any more price cuts this year," he added.

Sales were up moderately in the first two months of 2019 after stagnating at 1.94 billion in 2018.

SIX, owned by around 130 banks, is on the lookout for acquisitions. "Our war chest is full and we are looking to buy," Schmucki said, without naming any potential targets.

SIX will pay out to shareholders in the second quarter 338 million francs in cash it got in the cards deal that also gave it a 27 percent stake in Worldline. (Reporting by Oliver Hirt, Writing by Michael Shields; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)

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