Growth Companies

Exchange Operator Testing IPO Waters Again

BATS Global Markets is making a bold move by trying to list at a difficult time for new issues.
Matthew HellerApril 5, 2016

Electronic exchange operator BATS Global Markets has launched its second attempt at an initial public offering, setting the stage for a possible $212 million windfall for its investors.

BATS tried to sell shares to the public in March 2012 but abruptly canceled the offering because of a technical glitch. In a regulatory filing Monday, the company said it expects to sell 11.2 million shares at between $17 and $19 apiece, which would value the company at $1.63 billion to $1.82 billion.

At the midpoint, the IPO would raise about $202 million, twice the size of the attempted deal in 2012. As it did last time, BATS is listing its shares on its own exchange.

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“The move is brave on two fronts,” the New York Times said. “If the initial public offering is successful, it would be the first stock listed on the company’s exchange … Also, BATS is making its debut during one of the most difficult markets for initial public offerings in recent years, as investors have become choosier, often asking for lower pricing.”

In the first quarter, only nine companies debuted on U.S. exchanges, the lowest since 2009, according to data compiled by Dealogic.

According to the regulatory filing, BATS is the second largest exchange operator, with a 21.1% share of the overall U.S. equity market for the year ended Dec. 31, 2015. It also claims to have an 11.1% share of the publicly reported institutional spot foreign exchange market.

BATS will not receive any proceeds from the public offering since only its institutional shareholders, who include banks and private-equity firms, are selling.

“The stock-market volatility that has kept potential public offerings at bay can be helpful to exchange operators,” the Times said, noting that BATS generates revenue through the amount of trading that takes place on its exchange.

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