ICAP in talks to buy Plus Markets Group

The world's largest interdealer broker by market capitalisation ICAP, is in talks to buy Plus Markets Group , the UK exchange for fledgling companies, according to a Financial Times report.

The London-based broker had been in talks with the UK's Financial Services Authority and the Plus board involving a deal that would initially preserve the quotations of the 156 companies traded on the market, FT said.

According to the report, Plus Markets Group was facing closure after failing to secure a buyer, and without a deal it faced going private or seeking other trading facilities.
Citing two people familiar with the situation, the newspaper said ICAP would, in time, add other products to the exchange.

According to Michael Spencer, the chief executive of the broking giant the last four years had been the worst time in financial markets and the company was certainly not out of it yet.

He added, there was no short-term light at the end of the tunnel, considering which the company did pretty well in the last year.

A 3 per cent decline in revenues to £1.68 billion notwithstanding, profits for the year to March were up 1 per cent to £354 million. The dividend for the year went up 10 per cent to 22p, meaning Spencer and his family would collect £23.7 million. Spencer added, the improvement in earnings had come almost entirely from cost cutting.