Icap set for push into share trade services

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Icap yesterday signalled its intention to push into the share trading business by selling services to new equity trading platforms formed between banks.

That could include Project Turquoise, the new pan-European equity trading platform being launched by seven of the City's biggest investment banks.

The chief operating officer, Mike Yallop, said Icap - which allows banks to trade a huge range of financial instruments anonymously with each other - would need to push into new business.

In April, Icap completed its biggest acquisition, paying $775m (£408m) in cash and shares for the foreign exchange trading platform EBS. Mr Yallop said: "Increasingly as Icap develops, we are going to have to look outside out traditional boundaries. That could include offering services, such as technology or offering post-trading services to other markets. There aren't really any more trading platforms out there that we would want to buy."

Icap has ruled out becoming a "British white knight" bidder for the London Stock Exchange. Michael Spencer, Icap's chief executive, said: "The LSE debate is entirely behind us."

But the adoption of Mifid - the European directive designed to promote cross-border securities trading - is expected to open up a range of other opportunities.

Icap reassured the City yesterday withpre-tax profits up by more than a quarter to £120.8m from £98.2m for the six months to September 30 on revenues of £542.8m, up from £443.9m. The dividend was increased to 3p a share from 2.5p last time, though the shares slipped 8p to 478p.

Bridgewell analyst Geoff Miller said the results "showed the strength of the global franchise, and gives an indication of the potential for growth in the future".