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London Banker Taking Fresh Crack at LSE Deal That Got Away

Jan-Henrik Förster and Sonali Basak
London Banker Taking Fresh Crack at LSE Deal That Got Away

(Bloomberg) -- Moelis & Co. dealmaker Caroline Silver, one of the most prolific bankers in stock exchange M&A, is taking a fresh crack at London Stock Exchange Group Plc with an eye to minting the world’s second-biggest market powerhouse.

Three years after Silver’s client Intercontinental Exchange Inc. walked away from a potential LSE takeover, she’s now advising Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. on its shock attempt to buy the storied U.K. bourse operator. The potential $36.6 billion transaction could end up being one of the biggest deals of the London banker’s three-decade career.

Rivals respect Silver’s ability to work on big, complex deals with a U.K. angle at a time when Brexit is putting a cloud over the country’s financial services sector. She’s long been at the center of the biggest exchange transactions, advising Euronext NV on its 2001 initial public offering and on its sale six years later to the owner of the New York Stock Exchange.

The banker also helped Sweden’s OMX AB during its 2007 purchase by Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. and worked on Borsa Italiana SpA’s takeover by LSE. Her ties to Hong Kong date back at least to 2012, when she advised the London Metal Exchange Ltd. on its $2.2 billion sale to HKEX at a heady valuation.

Risky Bet

Her latest move is a risky bet that HKEX will succeed in its near-hostile attempt to buy LSE. It would be by far the Asian bourse operator’s largest-ever acquisition and help it diversify away from its dependence on Chinese listings and an increasingly fraught political climate at home.

If the gambit succeeds, it would knock down another blockbuster deal -- LSE’s proposed $27 billion acquisition of Refinitiv that would make the exchange a big player in financial data.

The LSE deal is a very high-profile win for Moelis and shows their improved presence overseas, said Devin Ryan, an analyst at JMP Securities.

“They are probably a bit better known for strength in middle market and in the financial sponsor community -- this is at the higher end of the spectrum,” Ryan said. “It’s clearly a sign of strength they have in the exchange sector. They have a great banker in that space.”

Fees Leap

The LSE deal would be a big boost to Moelis’s league table rankings in a year where it’s trailing many of its rivals in the boutique space. Silver and her team would reap $60 million to $70 million in fees if the purchase goes ahead, according to consulting firm Freeman & Co.

Before the transaction was announced, Moelis ranked 20th among M&A advisers globally this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s behind Evercore Partners Inc., which ranked fifth, and PJT Partners Inc., which came in at No. 9. Centerview Partners LLC is 11th while Lazard ranks 12th.

--With assistance from Dinesh Nair and Aaron Kirchfeld.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in London at jforster20@bloomberg.net;Sonali Basak in New York at sbasak7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dinesh Nair at dnair5@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Michael Hytha

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