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Talking Reference Data with Andrew Delaney: NYSE Tech – Breaking Bad?

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In what on paper looks like an executive clear-out ahead of the November 4 completion of InterContinentalExchange’s acquisition of NYSE Euronext, NYSE Technologies’ CEO Jon Robson and COO Terry Roche are leaving the company, according to sources close to the arrangement. The development follows the apparent breakdown of talks to spin off the NYSE Tech unit to Markit, raising the prospect that the business will be broken up and sold off as part of ICE’s post-acquisition liquidation of NYSE Euronext assets.

Robson joined NYSE Technologies as CEO from Thomson Reuters just over a year ago. Roche, a former colleague at Thomson Reuters, and widely seen as Robson’s go-to operations guy, stepped into the COO role as recently as last January.

NYSE Technologies says both are still employees of the company; sources indicate, however, that Ben Chrnelich, chief financial officer at NYSE Technologies, has taken on the role of interim CEO, with a permanent leader expected to take up the CEO role after the acquisition. The most likely candidate here is Ben Jackson, president and chief operating officer of ICE Futures US and a former SunGard executive.

Speculation is now mounting that the unit will be broken into product segments, and spun off to appropriate suitors. Indeed, there is a train of thought that suggests that Robson and his entourage may emerge as one such suitor, though for which segment or segments isn’t known. As such the team’s early departure may be designed to avoid a potential conflict of interest as ICE begins talks to divest of non-core elements.

For ICE, the acquisition’s primary focus is on NYSE Euronext’s derivatives markets, including NYSE Liffe operations in Europe and the US, as well as a US options business.

We’ll be watching to see what happens to NYSE Tech’s emerging reference data management utility venture, rumoured to have the backing of major players like Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JP MorganChase.

Others may be interested in other elements, like the FIX platform, the MAMA middleware capability and SuperFeed data feed, the SFTI network or indeed the DMA platforms and data centres at Mahwah, NJ, and Basildon, in Essex. These elements may be appealing to the likes of Markit, Thomson Reuters, BT and Equinix, or to smaller players like First Derivatives.

It remains to be seen why Markit walked away from a deal. The NYSE Technologies product line-up would make a good fit with Markit’s, giving the company an ‘enterprise’-style set of technology offerings that would stand it in good stead for taking on the likes of Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Interactive Data.

At NYSE Euronext, Peter Moylan, senior executive of business development, is also expected to depart. Recently, NYSE Euronext, parent of NYSE Technologies, made a regulatory filing confirming that three other executives would leave the company shortly after its acquisition by ICE, among them CFO Michael Geltzeiler and general counsel John Halvey.

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