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IPE wins backing for demutualisation

THE INTERNATIONAL Petroleum Exchange (IPE) has won tentative backing from its members for a plan to sell 70 per cent of the City energy derivatives exchange to outside investors for pounds 25m ahead of floating it on the London stock market in three years' time.

The demutualisation scheme, backed by BG, the former British Gas; Enron, the US energy concern, and Belgium's Distrigaz would value the IPE at pounds 35m, more than three-and-a-half times the value of the bid from Nymex, the New York Mercantile Exchange, which the IPE rejected last year.

Following a board meeting yesterday to discuss the results of a consultative ballot showing more than two-thirds of members in favour, the plan will be put to a formal vote at an extraordinary meeting on 30 July. The proposal has to be approved by 75 per cent of members.