Swiss SIX still on prowl for takeovers - finance chief

ZURICH, March 17 (Reuters) - Swiss financial infrastructure group SIX remains on the hunt for acquisitions after its takeover of Spanish bourse BME in June helped boost 2020 results, finance chief Daniel Schmucki told Reuters.

“We are focusing on organic growth with topics such as (digital platform) SDX, but also on acquisitions,” he said, noting takeovers could come in activities including trading, post-trading, financial data or banking services.

“We monitor opportunities very closely. Another major takeover is theoretically conceivable, but these are rather rare,” he added, noting any potential target had to provide economies of scale and growth potential.

SIX, which also bid unsuccessfully for Italy’s bourse last year, hoped to win regulatory licenses for digital platform SDX in the first half.

“We could then probably go live with the first transactions at the beginning of the second half of the year and generate the first revenues during the summer quarter,” he said.

Owned by banks, SIX boosted 2020 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by 73% to 369 million Swiss francs ($399 million). It made a net profit of 440 million francs and proposed raising its dividend to 4.30 francs from 3.90. Schmucki said 2021 profit would likely not match 2020 levels, which were flattered by the sale of stake in payments group Worldline and a trading volume boost due to a Swiss row with the European Union that funnelled almost all trading in Swiss shares to SIX.

“We expect that trading volumes will tend to decline compared to 2020 given the expected lower market volatility,” he said. Recognition of bourse equivalence with the UK would also lead to a reduction of SIX’s market share in Swiss equities.

Since the introduction of equivalence on Feb 1, it has fallen to around 80%. In the medium term, SIX’s market share was set to be in the high 70% range in the medium term, he said.

$1 = 0.9254 Swiss francs Reporting by Oliver Hirt, Editing by Michael Shields