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Borsa Italiana moves towards flotation

The Italian stock exchange, a large derivatives player, is planning to float and is planning, following the flotation, to forge international alliances.

In a short statement released last night Borsa Italiana said that its board had met yesterday 'and approved a proposal to commence a feasibility study for the Company's flotation'.

Borsa Italian, based in Milan, is the sixth biggest exchange in Europe, ranking just behind Madrid and Switzerland and some way below the big three - London, Euronext and Frankfurt -but runs the risk of falling behind as other exchanges forge alliances. The Borsa was originally state-owned, but it was demutualised in the 1990s and is owned by a range of banks and other financial institutions.

The candidates for an alliance with the Borsa include the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Deutsche Börse and Euronext, which operates four continental exchanges, including Paris, and is putting together a formal bid for the LSE. The Borsa already has links with Euronext, established through their joint acquisition last year of MTS, an Italian government bond trading platform. And, the fast-expanding US exchanges cannot be ruled out.

The move towards consolidation is being driven by the increasingly international nature of trading in equities, the desire to increase liquidity by combining different centres, and in Europe by legislation to make cross-border trading easier.

The legislation to clear the way for the flotation went through the Italian parliament late last year, although a flotation would still require clearance from the Italian financial services regulator.

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