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FX news: Tullets in play

On Wednesday Tullett Prebon, made an announcement to the London Stock Exchange that it was “in preliminary talks with a third party which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the entire issued share capital of the company.”

Rumours about the potential bidder immediately began to fly: banks Macquarie and Bank of China, broker GFI (again), a stock exchange (ICE, Deutsche Borse or the LSE itself were mentioned) and so on. No one mentioned BGC of course.

With everyone in no-comment mode, which suitor makes sense? Macquarie and Bank of China are unlikely – both suggest a conflict of interest. The GFI tie-up possibility faded in late 2008 as cable tumbled, but it is possible that the parties are looking at the project afresh. But a stock exchange must be favourite: there would be technology synergies and not too much product overlap.

However, almost every equity analyst you read reckons Tulletts are undervalued; which then leads to the conjecture that the bidder is a private equity outfit having a punt. But whoever is making a play, I reckon Terry Smith will make them pay.

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