by Leo King

London Stock Exchange set to buy Millennium IT

Sep 14, 2009
Financial Services IndustryIT StrategyMobile Apps

The London Stock Exchange is “poised to acquire” specialist trading firm Millennium IT, according to the Financial Times.

The LSEis expected to spend up to £50 million buying the Sri Lankan provider, in a deal that could be announced in the next few days, according to reports. An acquisition could help cut costs and ensure ongoing maintenance, it has been speculated.

A spokesperson at the exchange declined to confirm or deny the reports, other than to say the LSE was “closing in” on deciding a way to replace TradElect.

The existing LSE TradElect platform suffered serious reliability issues last year, when network software problems took it offline for a potentially devastating seven hours. At the time, angry traders stormed out of the exchange in protest. The system is also alleged to be slower than those at rival exchanges.

The TradElect system was upgraded by Accenture a year ago at a cost of £40 million. It runs on HP ProLiant Servers and Microsoft .Net and SQL Server 2000 systems, within a Cisco network architecture.

The move would be the most aggressive step taken by new chief executive Xavier Rolet, according to the Financial Times, which reported the likelihood of an impending acquisition.

Millennium IT systems are currently in use at the London Metal Exchange, and stock exchanges on other continents. The supplier claims on its website that it has developed the “world’s fastest” trading platform, running on Intel Xeon 5500 processors, and potentially delivering transaction times of 0.13 milliseconds.

The company has said it will be possible to process one million orders per second “using volume produced Intel two socket Nehalem servers”, within a commercially affordable environment.

The current trading speed on TradElect is only 2.7 milliseconds, compared to 0.4 milliseconds at specialist electronic rival Chi-X, the Wall Street Journal stated in an article last month.

Xavier Rolet, the new chief executive at the LSE, said in August that the exchange would install a platform that could execute electronic trades in “sub millisecond” times, as well as cut costs.

The cost of operating TradElect is also a motivation behind the change, according to the FT. Following the upgrade to TradElect last year, the LSE in-sourced “dozens” of staff from Accenture to run the platform, it noted. This helped contribute to technology becoming responsible for 47 percent of the group’s operating costs.