CHX Bullish on Buyout


Hit me baby one more time.

Or how about another 60 days? Or more comments?

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has extended the comment period for people to publicly express their opinions on the proposed acquisition of the Chicago Stock Exchange to China-based Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group. The extension has drawn out government officials who are wary of the acquisition by a foreign company. CCEG also has U.S. investors in the group.

On Jan. 12, 2017, the SEC instituted proceedings to determine whether to approve or disapprove the proposal, which provided 180 additional days for its decision, ending on June 10. With this new extension, the SEC has now extended the period for making its determination to Aug. 9.

But that’s OK with the Windy City exchange operator. In response to a query from Traders Magazine, a spokesperson at the Chicago Stock Exchange issued the following comment:

“CHX is confident that the SEC will ultimately approve the proposed acquisition of the exchange by a multinational investor consortium led by the Casin Group. Last December, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) found that there were no unresolved national security concerns with the transaction. The SEC’s approval of this transaction will allow CHX to significantly increase its staff and to implement a strategic plan that will bring both domestic and international business to Chicago.”

Casin’s proposition to purchase the 134-year-old bourse raised a lot of eyebrows since the announcement was made in February 2016 – both in the equities markets and in Washington DC. Casin was founded in the 1990s through a privatization of state- owned assets, initially focused on developing real estate projects in Chongqing, before expanding into the environmental and financial industries. It has no prior involvement in the financial trading markets.

Immediately following the announcement 46 members of Congress said in a letter to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. that “this proposed acquisition would be the first time a Chinese-owned, possibly state-influenced, firm maintained direct access into the” $21 trillion U.S. equity marketplace.
And just earlier this week, 11 members of Congress went one step farther and filed a comment letter with the SEC saying the regulator was in no position to monitor foreign entities.

“With little or no insight and transparency into government-dominated Chinese markets, the SEC will be unable to monitor the ownership structure of CCEG after approval, leaving CHX open to undue, improper, and possibly state-driven influence,” the Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrote in their joint letter to the SEC.

While the Chicago Stock exchange only handles approximately 0.5 percent of U.S. stock trading, those opposed to the acquisition argue that ownership of a domestic exchange by a foreign entity gives them access into the world’s largest stock market. Government officials see this as a potential threat to U.S. national security.

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