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Aux Temps Perdus en Fleet Street

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Just because we could, we took lunch on Fleet Street yesterday. I managed to squeeze in a quick haircut at the hairdressers just across the street from the Punch Tavern, then ambled over to Lutyens, the newish chi-chi restaurant housed at – yes, you guessed it – 85 Fleet Street.

This building – designed by Edwin Lutyens, the British architect of much of New Delhi – is steeped in history for those of us of a market data bent, having been home to our beloved Reuters before it was snapped up by Thomson Corp. No trace of Reuters today, but the same feel of the old Reuters offices wafts through the restaurant, probably due to the retained use of the exposed stone throughout.

But the restaurant still buzzes with financial markets types, mostly due to the fact that Goldman has its offices right across the street in the beautiful art deco former Daily Express building (enough of the architecture lessons – Ed.). And here it was that we found ourselves chatting about the imminent sale of Chi-X Europe to Bats.

Nothing earth-moving, since everyone and his dog has been chiming in on this, currently the City’s worst-kept secret. But a few snippets, like the fact that the parties are working to close the deal by February 15, allowing fallback time to get the transaction closed before Chi-X Global owner Instinet’s fiscal year-end on March 31. And like the expectation that the Chi-X Europe marketplace will relocate to Bats’ data centre, at Savvis’s Greenwich View Place facility on Millwall Dock, which is where we walk our dog Gracie most mornings. Quite what that means for Equinix’s LD4 data centre in Slough, where Chi-X Europe has been a major tenant for some time, remains to be seen.

What’s also interesting is that Chi-X Global’s disposal of its other pesky subsidiary, MarketPrizm, to network and hosting specialist Colt, is working to the same set of timelines. Which is to say that we could be hearing more about that transaction – London’s second-worst-kept secret – in just a matter of days. Oddly, the amount to be paid by Colt is far from clear to us, with marketplace estimates ranging from “a dollar” to something like “a heck of a lot”. In truth, we reckon it will be something closer to the latter. Another unresolved issue will be MarketPrizm’s commitment to euNetworks, its networking partner which some suggest is receiving pretty penny for ongoing services even as MarketPrizm’s business awaits news of its new ownership.

It will all come out in the wash, we’re sure. As will the details of the new MarketPrizm management team. Many expect a crack CEO/CTO combination to be parachuted in from Boston, home to Colt’s equity owners, Fidelity Investments. What’s clear is that, whoever ends up running the business, they will be keen to retain existing parent Nomura – currently No. 1 on the LSE in terms of trading volume – alongside its other reference customer UBS. It will be an interesting subscript to the Chi-X/Bats story.

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