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Acquisition: Currenex comes back to life for State Street

Perceived as dead and buried three years ago, a $564 million purchase price stuns the market.

When Cliff Lewis became chairman and chief executive of Currenex in January 2003, he signalled his intention of reinventing the company. It would no longer be simply a high-technology utility for the buy side but rather a broader foreign exchange marketplace run on a for-profits basis. Few at the time gave Lewis any real chance of success, especially as it was widely predicted that the multi-bank platform space was ripe for consolidation. This contraction of trading venues has yet to occur and it might be that Currenex’s sale revives the topic, at least as a debate even if not as a reality. What is clear is that with the sale of the company for $564 million in cash to State Street Corporation, Lewis’s early confidence in his ability to turn it around has been more than justified.

Although it was an open secret that Currenex was auctioning itself, the price has stunned many in the FX market. After all, it is barely a year since HotspotFX was dispatched by its owners for a mere $77.5 million to Knight Financial. And EBS, without question the biggest spot FX middleman in the market, was sold to Icap for about $800 million.

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